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Titanic Lives Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew by Richard Davenport-Hines

Titanic Lives Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew

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An examination of the passengers and crew of the Titanic, who together formed a microcosm of Edwardian Society from the humblest stoker to the billionaire Astors. We learn the “back story”, who these people were, why they were on the Titanic and what happened to them. Telling the story in this way, allows Richard Davenport-Hines to cast a fresh eye on the well-worn facts, recording in great detail the personal tragedies of the people involved involving us the reader in their lives and the collision that holed this great floating palace on the 14th April 1912.

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Titanic Lives Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew by Richard Davenport-Hines

On the night of 14 April 1912, midway through her maiden voyage, the seemingly unsinkable Titanic hit an iceberg, sustaining a 300-feet gash as six compartments were wrenched open to the Atlantic Ocean. In little over two hours, the palatial liner nose-dived to the bottom of the sea. More than 1,500 people perished in the freezing waters. But who were they? In Titanic Lives, Richard Davenport-Hines brings to life in fascinating and absorbing detail the stories of the men who built and owned the ship, the crew who serviced her and the passengers of all classes who sailed on her. The Titanic was a floating microcosm of Edwardian society -- at the bottom of the ship was third class, filled with economic migrants and political and religious refugees hoping for a better life in the New World. Above them were hundreds of second-class passengers buoyed up by their prosperous respectability. On the upper decks were the hereditary rich and those of inconceivable wealth -- American titans of industry such as John Jacob Astor IV, who was found with $4000 in sodden notes in his pockets. In this epic, sweeping history we are introduced to this broad cast of characters, from every class and every continent, as we follow their lives on board the ship through to the supreme dramatic climax of the disaster itself.


'An astonishing work, of meticulous research, which allows us to know, in painful detail, the men and women on that fateful voyage. Even now, a hundred years later, Mr Davenport-Hines finds a new, and heart-breaking, story to tell.'
Julian Fellowes

'eloquent and absorbing! As well as being a fascinating work of social history, Titanic Lives is a remarkable study of empathy and its absence. As such it will stay afloat long after the armada of other Titanic books have gone down.'
Frances Wilson, Daily Telegraph

'Though it seems shameful to admit it, the one certain benefit we have derived from the tragedy is a shattering human story that is also, when told as well as Davenport-Hines tells it, utterly compelling.'
John Carey, Sunday Times

'The eminent historian's masterly exploration of the lives of the passengers on the world's most (in)famous ship'
Daily Telegraph Culture Agenda

'2012 looks set to be a battle between Dickens and the Titanic! Among those that stand out are Titanic Lives'. Independent on Sunday 'it came as a body blow to discover that I am not the only person who had the idea of greeting the centenary with a new book!But the one that will stay afloat is Richard Davenport-Hines's masterly Titanic Lives'
Frances Wilson, Literary Review

'a thought-provoking blend of sharp observation and insight. The author's intention is to strip away the layers of myth and cliche surrounding the notorious sinking and he does it admirably![a] splendid book.'
Daily Express

Sunday Telegraph

'a richly detailed and haunting history!This will not be the last book on the Titanic but it is a safe bet to say that there will not be a better.'
David Crane, Spectator

About the Author

Richard Davenport-Hines won the Wolfson Prize for History for his first book, 'Dudley Docker'. He is an adviser to the 'Oxford Dictionary of National Biography' and has also written biographies of W.H.Auden and Marcel Proust. His most recent book, 'Ettie, the Intimate Life of Lady Desborough' was published in 2008. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Literature, he reviews for the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday Times and the Times Literary Supplement.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Richard Davenport-Hines

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