REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Voyagers of the Titanic by Richard Davenport-Hines

Voyagers of the Titanic

One hundred years after the tragedy, many feel there is nothing left to be said about the Titanic, that every aspect of the ship, its passengers, and its sinking has been exhausted. While this may be true, the spate of books released this year hope to test that opinion, and I’d say that Richard Davenport-Hines’ Voyagers of the Titanic does its best to convince readers otherwise.

Voyagers of the Titanic tells the tale from a myriad of angles, beginning with the ship’s origins, and ending with the fate of the iceberg which sealed the RMS Titanic’s fate. Sandwiched between is a richly-detailed portrait of an age where wealth seemed endless and power forever in the hands of aristocratic Anglo-Saxons. If you’re a Titanic buff, or have read the multitude of books released in the mid-90s in the wake of James Cameron’s Titanic, Davenport-Hines does not uncover anything new or untapped; however, his elegant prose does make the narrative sprightly and engaging.

I consider the section about the second class passengers the most interesting, for this class–essentially made up of gradations of the typical Anglo-American middle class–is often neglected in the rush to frame the sinking as a matter of rich vs poor (or bourgeoisie vs proletariat). The issues I had with this book is that after a while, Davenport-Hines seemed to gorge on the lavish details of the Edwardian and Gilded Age, and the description became overwhelming and overdone. Also, in stuffing the book with snapshots of nearly every person on the boat, humanity and emotions were nearly erased from the text, and the recitation of their lives and deaths were just as hurriedly impersonal as the slightly distasteful (to me at least) inclusion of the photograph of a victim’s body being embalmed on the decks of the Minia.

For those newly interested in the ship, its passengers, and its sinking, this is a solid place to begin reading, though I feel longtime Titanic aficionados may be frustrated by its redundancy to their libraries.

FTC Disclosure: The book was provided by the publisher




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About Evangeline Holland

Author of Edwardian/WWI historicals. Likes cooking, the smell and collecting of old books, various artsy hobbies, travel, classic cinema, period dramas, the fusty areas of history, and all things French (though is terrible with maintaining fluency in the language). Read more about her novels and non-fiction here

10 Thoughts on “REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Voyagers of the Titanic by Richard Davenport-Hines

  1. As a Titanic buff I sink my teeth into any new published work if only to see a different take even on the same information. Looking forward to a great read!

  2. Julie on April 6, 2012 at 1:21 PM said:

    Love the Edwardian era, but not that familiar with the Titanic. Should be an interesting read. Love your blog!

  3. Ooh, this is one of those books that sounded interesting (coming at something from the perspective of the individuals involved always intrigues me), but I stayed on the fence because it’s a topic I know very, very little about. I’m happy to see your review! I’ll give the book another look.

  4. Amanda on April 6, 2012 at 1:58 PM said:

    Wow! This sounds like a great book. I’m a Titanic buff and this sounds amazing.

    By the way, I love your site! You have some great info about all things Downton!

  5. I’d love to read a book about the Titanic since I’ve not read any of them.

  6. I’d love to read a book about the Titanic in that I’ve not read any of them.

  7. Sarah on April 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM said:

    I’ve been wanting to read some of the new Titanic releases. This one sounds really fascinating.

  8. Thank you for hosting this giveaway! I was a huge Titanic film fan when it came out when I was 15! So, of course I had to see it in 3D, and it didn’t disappoint. Stunning film on the big screen. Amazing. :)

  9. It’s always a treat to read your posts. Also, I absolutely love the new design and layout of your site! I would be thrilled to be a part of this giveaway.

  10. Cristiane on April 7, 2012 at 2:57 PM said:

    Sounds utterly fascinating. Did you ever read a cultural history of the Titanic disaster, “Down with the Old Canoe” by Steven Biel? It was published in 1996, so it’s very outdated, but it’s really good about the image of the Titanic disaster in pop culture (before the Cameron movie, of course). It’s well worth seeking out.

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