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The Ship of Dreams

The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era

“Gareth Russell has chosen a handful of passengers on the doomed liner and by training a spotlight on every detail of their lives, he has given us a meticulous, sensitive, and at times harsh picture of the early 20th century in Britain and America. A marvelous piece of work.” —Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey

A riveting account of the Titanic disaster and the unraveling of the gilded Edwardian society that had created it.

In April 1912, six notable people were among those privileged to experience the height of luxury—first class passage on “the ship of dreams,” the RMS Titanic: Lucy Leslie, Countess of Rothes; son of the British Empire, Tommy Andrews; American captain of industry John Thayer and his son Jack; Jewish-American immigrant Ida Straus; and American model and movie star Dorothy Gibson. Within a week of setting sail, they were all caught up in the horrifying disaster of the Titanic’s sinking, one of the biggest news stories of the century. Today, we can see their stories and the Titanic’s voyage as the beginning of the end of the established hierarchy of the Edwardian era.

Writing in his elegant signature prose and using previously unpublished sources, deck plans, journal entries, and surviving artifacts, Gareth Russell peers through the portholes of these first-class travelers to immerse us in a time of unprecedented change in British and American history. Through their intertwining lives, he examines social, technological, political, and economic forces such as the nuances of the British class system, the explosion of competition in the shipping trade, the birth of the movie industry, the Irish Home Rule Crisis, and the Jewish-American immigrant experience while also recounting their intimate stories of bravery, tragedy, and selflessness.

Masterful in its superb grasp of the forces of history, gripping in its moment-by-moment account of the sinking, revelatory in discounting long-held myths, and lavishly illustrated with color and black and white photographs, this absorbing, accessible, and authoritative account of the Titanic’s life and death is destined to become the definitive book on the subject.

Photograph by Iona Wolff

Educated at Oxford University and Queen’s University, Belfast, Gareth Russell is a historian, novelist, and playwright. He is the author of The Ship of Dreams, Young and Damned and Fair, The Emperors, and An Illustrated Introduction to the Tudors. He lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

"Narrator Jenny Funnell's soft, elegant voice draws listeners into this account of the sinking of the TITANIC, that coincided with the end of the Edwardian era, a time of great change in British history. Focusing on six of the ship's first-class passengers, the author examines a way of life that would be gone forever by the time WWI ended. The story begins at Leslie House, where we meet aristocrat Noel Leslie, who pops up throughout this work. Funnell brings humanity to the devotion between Isidor and Ida Straus, who chose to die together on the ship rather than to have Ida board a lifeboat. Russell also brings in many other accounts of the sinking—from a movie made soon afterward by a surviving actress to James Cameron's computer simulations and exploratory dives."

– AudioFile Magazine

More books from this author: Gareth Russell

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