Book Review: Voyagers of the Titanic
Published on April 11th, 2012 | by Trent Overby0
Book review by Trent Overby:
Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From tells the story of the people involved with the Titanic, from its inception to its sinking, rather than focusing on the accident itself. Richard Davenport-Hines delves into the lives of those who created this ‘unsinkable leviathan,’ those who traveled on the world’s most luxurious liner, and those whose lives were lost while in the pursuit of a better life in America. All of their compelling stories will put the reader into the shoes of those who experienced the majesty, and tragedy, which was the Titanic.
The insight given into the thoughts and impressions of everyone aboard, from millionaires to lower class immigrants to the crewmen, is richly detailed throughout this book. The ambitions of Pierpont Morgan, Thomas Andrews, Bruce Ismay and others in creating the Titanic is spelled out so that the reader can see what the reasons were for creating White Star’s palace of the Atlantic. The decisions behind the décor, the opulence, and even the cherry-picked crew all put human faces to this ship. The story of John Jacob Astor IV, the richest man on board, transitions from racing motor cars in America to his final acts of gentlemanly honor and finally to the finding of his body. The third-class passengers give just as emotional of a story as those ‘higher’ than themselves. The Sages, John and Annie with their nine children from Hackney, were optimistically going to Florida to start a new citrus farm only for them all to be tragically claimed by the North Atlantic. Even the tale of Charles Herbert Lightoller, the controversial second officer who translated ‘women and children first’ as ‘women and children only’ while launching the lifeboats, is given so that all can see what his, and his crewmates’, motivations were and how he dealt with the adversity of the accident.
Richard Davenport-Hines has compiled a diverse range of stories that are rich in detail and then seamlessly puts them together to let readers hear the voices of those who were on board the ill-fated Titanic. His attention to personal details, as opposed to technical schematics and analysis, gives this book a pathos that is seldom felt when focusing on rivets and ice. This book captures the monumental achievement of the ship’s construction, the excitement of the passengers and crew on board, the heroics and misguided steps during the sinking, and the heartbreak of those who lost their loved ones. Voyagers of the Titanic puts the people onboard the Titanic ahead of the ship itself and as such is worth the read to anyone who wants to feel the splendor and the misfortune of this doomed voyage.
Author: Richard Davenport-Hines
Publisher: HarperCollins, New York, New York
Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Page Count: 342