The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era

Atria. Nov. 2019. 448p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781501176722. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781501176746. HIST
Historian and novelist Russell (Young and Damned and Fair) provides a lens into the sinking of the Titanic through the perspectives of six first-class passengers: American movie star Dorothy Gibson; Lucy Leslie, Countess of Rothes; Ida Straus, wife of Macy’s co-owner Isidor Straus; son of the British Empire, Tommy Andrews; and John Thayer, a railroad executive, and his son Jack. Russell details their staterooms and lavish dinners, as well as their perceptions of the ship and its other passengers. The account gains momentum post-iceberg, and each individual reveals his or her true character in the face of unfolding tragedy. Although Ida Straus’s fraught decision to die with her husband, rather than climb into a lifeboat without him, has been oft-portrayed in books and film, it is nonetheless affecting here. Russell discusses the lives of those who survived, and how the disaster reverberated for them. Several new histories were published around the centennial of the ship’s sinking; among them, both Richard Davenport-Hines' Voyagers of the Titanic and Hugh Brewster’s Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage assert that the Titanic’s sinking was the end of an epoch for the Edwardians.
VERDICT An optional purchase, as this is well-trod ground.

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