Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Voyagers of the Titanic by Richard Davenport-Hines

Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats and the worlds they came from
by Richard Davenport-Hines
William Morrow (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-187684-4
Buy From Indigo

Description: Late in the night of April 14, 1912, the mighty Titanic, a passenger liner traveling from Southampton, England, to New York City, struck an iceberg four hundred miles south of Newfoundland. Its sinking over the next two and a half hours brought the shipmythological in name and sizeone hundred years of infamy.  Of the 2,240 people aboard the ship, 1,517 perished either by drowning or by freezing to death in the frigid North Atlantic waters. What followed the disaster was tantamount to a worldwide outpouring of grief: In New York, Paris, London, and other major cities, people lined the streets and crowded around the offices of the White Star Line, the Titanics shipping company, to inquire for news of their loved ones and for details about the lives of some of the famous people of their time. 

While many accounts of the Titanics voyage focus on the technical or mechanical aspects of why the ship sank, Voyagers of the Titanic follows the stories of the men, women, and children whose lives intersected on the vessels fateful last day, covering the full range of first, second, and third classfrom plutocrats and captains of industry to cobblers and tailors looking for a better life in America.

Richard Davenport-Hines delves into the fascinating lives of those who ate, drank, reveled, dreamed, and died aboard the mythic ship: from John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest person on board, whose comportment that night was subject to speculation and gossip for years after the event, to Archibald Butt, the much-beloved military aide to Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, who died helping others into the Titanics few lifeboats. With magnificent prose, Voyagers of the Titanic also brings to life the untold stories of the ships middle and third classesclergymen, teachers, hoteliers, engineers, shopkeepers, counter-jumpers, and clerkseach of whom had a story that not only illuminates the fascinating ship but also the times in which it sailed. In addition, Davenport-Hines explores the fascinating politics behind the Titanics creation, which involved larger-than-life figures such as J. P. Morgan, the ships owner, and Lord Pirrie, the ships builder.

The Good Stuff
  • Thoroughly well researched, amazed on how much research was put into this
  • Incredibly detailed
  • Gives you a fascinating look into the period of time when the tragedy occurred and especially dealing with class separation
  • Loved the little back stories he mentions about the passengers - gives you more insight into the time
  • Really liked how the book was organized into stories based on what class the passengers were on or what their responsibilities were (shipbuilders, first class, second class, third class, sailors - you get the idea)
  • Learned some things I never knew before about the tragedy - and let me tell you that is huge considering all I have read on the Titanic
  • Fascinating to learn about those who were supposed to be on the boat but through a twist of fate never boarded
  • Great photos (would have liked more, but hey just picky)
  • Quite a few mentions of Canada and Canadians 
  • Impressive Index 
  • Good account of what happened as boat was sinking and rescue mission afterwards 
  • Tons of amazing stories about the bravery of women during the tragedy
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Because of the detail and mentions of so many passengers it can be a tad confusing
  • Again because of the attention to detail and mentions of all the passengers it can be quite dry and not very engrossing - its one that you want to read over a long period of time
  • Some of the mentions of derogatory names for different nationalities, although very true of the time, can be quite offensive
  • Since I am a Titanic junkie and have read so much about the tragedy I was often frustrated at some of his references to facts a little off -- for example there are quite a few varying theories on how Ismay got off the boat and author only uses one theory and states it as fact without mentioning other scenarios (Hope that makes sense, had a hard time putting it into words)
  • Didn't need to see the picture of the corpse of one of the victims (in their defense the picture isn't too close up but its still creepy)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Joseph Conrad had posted the manuscript of his story "Karain" to his new York admirer John Quinn, one of those American collectors who rifled Europe for rarities to hoard in their private troves. "Karain" was lost in the sinking."

"Morgan ranked himself with the pharaohs and popes, the ruling houses of Medici, Hapsburg, and Bonaparte, the princes and dukes whose collections he dismembered and acquired."

"Millet wrote in a letter posted at Queenstown. "Looking over the list I only find three or four people I know but there are .... a number of obnoxious, ostentatious American women, the scourge of any place they infest, and worse on shipboard than anywhere. Many of them carry tiny dogs, and lead husbands around like pet lambs. I tell you the American women is a buster. She should be put in a harem and kept there."

"It had steamed westward as if it were invulnerable, plunging too fast into an ice zone to stop when an iceberg hove in view. There had been a woeful inadequacy of lifeboats, there had been a shambles loading them, and the crewmen who were put in charge of them often proved blundering or weak nerved, The ship's last hours had been a climax of deadly folly."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • I would say strictly for the Titanic buff, but that is just my opinion
3.75 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

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