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Extended Audio Sample Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From, by Richard Davenport-Hines Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (334 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Davenport-Hines Narrator: Robin Sachs Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 ship—mythological in name and size—one 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 Titanic’s 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 Titanic’s 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 vessel’s fateful last day, covering the full range of first, second, and third class­—from 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 Titanic’s few lifeboats. With magnificent prose, Voyagers of the Titanic also brings to life the untold stories of the ship’s middle and third classes—clergymen, teachers, hoteliers, engineers, shopkeepers, counterjumpers, and clerks—each 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 Titanic’s creation, which involved larger-than-life figures such as J. P. Morgan, the ship’s owner, and Lord Pirrie, the ship’s builder.

The memory of this tragedy still remains a part of the American psyche and Voyagers of the Titanic brings that clear night back to us with all of its drama and pathos.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Lost in all the arguments about hubris, folly, and class that enfold the Titanic story like a Grand Banks fog have been a myriad of long-forgotten or never-known human stories, tales of passengers and crew—and owners and builders and speculators and rescuers—who were riveted together both in and by this great maritime tragedy. Here at last is the true memorial to them all, a book well worthy of marking the centenary of the crystal-clear night when the immense ship slid to her terrible doom.”

    Simon Winchester, OBE, New York Times bestselling author

  • “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 heartbreaking story to tell.”

    Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey and Titanic

  • “Impressive in both its writing and reporting…It’s a romp, from the valets—there 31 personal maids or valets on board—to the dressmaker Lady Duff Gordon (“a pioneer of sexy underwear”) to Joseph Laroche, the only black man on board and husband of a Frenchwoman, mother of his two daughters…That’s what’s so fun about this book. You don’t know who will be strolling down the deck next. The ship holds a million stories.”

    USA Today

  • “The story of the Titanic has been told many times; this one takes a sociological perspective, with the confident, graceful prose of fine fiction.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A shattering human story that is also, when told as Davenport-Hines tells it, utterly compelling.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “A meticulous, engrossing recreation of the disaster and the social reality that shaped it.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Offers interesting explanations of the formation of icebergs, ship design, and the nature of transatlantic travel…The vignettes covering those in second and third class are especially moving, as Hines stresses the hopes of many to begin a new life in America. This is a well-done and creative retelling of a still-riveting story.”

    Booklist

  • “Davenport-Hines presents a detailed collective biography of practically everyone involved with Titanic, from her most (and least) famous passengers to the sailors to the shipbuilders. Even the iceberg gets a backstory and denouement…A well-researched and appealing read.”

    Library Journal

  • “A moving account…The book has all the inevitability and pathos of Greek tragedy, but by maintaining the personal dimension, the author transforms a narrative monumental hubris meeting human error into a haunting story of real, intersecting lives on a collision course with destiny.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Marion Husband | 2/17/2014

    " Very very sad but very fascinating and readable. I should stop reading such sad troubling books....they affect me far more than they did when I was younger. There were times when I felt I couldn't read on becaus it was so sad, but it was well written and insightful "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Sarah Smith | 2/15/2014

    " Just in time for the 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking, VOYAGERS OF THE TITANIC is one of the better books about the people on board. Richard Davenport-Hines surrounds familiar figures with unfamiliar background and details that pull together into a riveting story. With a novelist's eye, Davenport-Hines sets his first-class passengers against the new Edwardian craze for speed; shows the ship's roots in the labor violence of Belfast; and sets third-class passengers within the great migration from Europe to America. Thomas Andrews comes to life, irascible and dependable; John Jacob Astor ("He was a builder of Titanics on terra firma") also appears in his role as a slum landlord; and includes colorful characters not usually among the Titanic cast of characters, such as J.P. Morgan, who owned the White Star Line. A vivid, immensely readable new look at the enduring tragedy of Titanic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Lyndi | 2/11/2014

    " This was dry, which was disappointing for an event that has captivated our attention for over 100 years. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jean | 2/8/2014

    " Realy brings the night of the tragedy to life, in fact the entire voyage, through the people on board. Not just first class, but all classes and rew, their hopes, plans, and aspirations, and how so many were destroyed...not just those whodied, but those who were haunted the rest of their lives. "

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About the Author

Richard Davenport-Hines is the acclaimed biographer of W. H. Auden and the Macmillan dynasty. He is also the author of Proust at the Majestic: The Last Days of the Author Whose Book Changed Paris and The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics. He is a regular contributor to the UK publications Literary Review, Sunday Telegraph, Spectator, Times Literary Supplement.