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

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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.

Rose Tremain - 'In a year that marked the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, Richard Davenport-Hines's Titanic Lives (HarperPress) was by far the most gripping book on the subject. From his eerily powerful first lines about the iceberg – "There were no witnesses. It didn't look like a moment from history" – he manages to maintain an extraordinary forward momentum, yet at the same time rescue from the deep the biographies of hundreds of people. It was also the first account of the disaster to make me see that the people in the lifeboats were terrified, not only because of the terrible spectre of the sinking ship and the screams of the dying, but also because they didn't know whether they, too, would yet perish. We know that the Carpathia is going to rescue them; they didn't. Davenport-Hines's sense of what to reveal when is perfectly tuned.'

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

Marking the centenary of the Titanic disaster, Titanic Lives is a fresh investigation of the lives of the passengers and crew on board the most famous ship in history. In this impeccably researched and utterly riveting social history, Richard Davenport-Hines brings to life the stories of the men who built and owned the Titanic, the crew who serviced her and the passengers of all classes who sailed on her. We are introduced to this fascinating cast of characters and follow their lives on board the ship through to the supreme dramatic climax of the disaster. Universally critically acclaimed, Titanic Lives is the must-read Titanic book of the centenary year.


'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.'
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

'[A] gripping study ... the author paints a richly atmospheric portrait of an age when class consciousness was at its apogee.'
Literary Review

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

1st September 2012


Richard Davenport-Hines

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HarperPress an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


416 pages


Biography / Autobiography

True stories
Maritime history
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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