Mr. Brewster takes us onboard the Titanic and into the lives of the extraordinary individuals who made up some of the passenger list on that fateful voyage. Rather than a simple retelling of the sinking, this goes behind the scenes in particular detail, into the lives and subsequent activities of the passengers who climbed aboard the “unsinkable ship”. The scandalous story of how John Jacob Astor wooed and won his much younger wife Madeleine and the society scandal that ensued; the peculiar journey into women’s high fashion taken by Lady Duff Gordon; the close friendship between President Taft and his advisor Archibald Butt; the artist Frank Millet (who coined the term “the white city” for the 1893 Chicago Exposition and was close friends with architect Daniel Burnham) who was actively working on plans for the future Lincoln Memorial; and pin up girl Dorothy Gibson. This brings the sinking home in a much more personal way and emphasizes the amazing talent, personalities, and facets that made up that group, many of whom didn’t live to tell their own tales.
Many things that surprised me included: the number of individuals who grabbed spots on the Titanic to reach injured or ailing family members, making their ordeals during the sinking all the more poignant; the unfairness of the “coward” label automatically applied to any of the men who happened to survive no matter their journey to survival; the surreal quality stemming from the fact that no one seemed to communicate that the ship was definitely sinking, making most passengers hesitant or even unwilling to venture out into the dark, black ocean in a tiny boat, and thereby signing their own death warrants.
If you enjoy historical photographs, then do get the print edition as the images lose their quality on an e-reader. An excellent look inside the Titanic’s staterooms, dining halls, and third class bunks, anyone who enjoys Titanic trivia won’t want to miss this one.
Amazon link is here.