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A brilliantly original and gripping new look at the sinking of the Titanic through the prism of the life and lost honor of J. Bruce Ismay, the ship’s owner
Books have been written and films have been made, we have raised the Titanic and watched her go down again on numerous occasions, but out of the wreckage Frances Wilson spins a new epic: when the ship hit the iceberg on April 14, 1912, and one thousand men, lighting their last cigarettes, prepared to die, J. Bruce Ismay, the ship’s owner and inheritor of the White Star fortune, jumped into a lifeboat filled with women and children and rowed away to safety.
Accused of cowardice and of dictating the Titanic’s excessive speed, Ismay became, according to one headline, “The Most Talked-of Man in the World.” The first victim of a press hate campaign, he never recovered from the damage to his reputation, and while the other survivors pieced together their accounts of the night, Ismay never spoke of his beloved ship again.
In the Titanic’s mail room was a manuscript by that great narrator of the sea, Joseph Conrad, the story of a man who impulsively betrays a code of honor and lives on under the strain of intolerable guilt. But it was Conrad’s great novel Lord Jim, in which a sailor abandons a sinking ship, leaving behind hundreds of passengers in his charge, that uncannily predicted Ismay’s fate. Conrad, the only major novelist to write about the Titanic, knew more than anyone what ships do to men, and it is with the help of his wisdom that Wilson unravels the reasons behind Ismay’s jump and the afterlives of his actions.
Using never-before-seen letters written by Ismay to the beautiful Marion Thayer, a first-class passenger with whom he had fallen in love during the voyage, Frances Wilson explores Ismay’s desperate need to tell his story, to make sense of the horror of it all, and to find a way of living with the consciousness of lost honor. For those who survived the Titanic, the world was never the same. But as Wilson superbly demonstrates, we all have our own Titanics, and we all need to find ways of surviving them.
I don't necessarily dispute Wilson's conclusions, but I do think the provenance should be pointed out.
It was an interesting side bar perhaps, but FAR too much time is spent on it that drags the reader away from the main point of the book for very little useful purpose.
Not enough scholarly work has been written about J. Bruce Ismay, the White Star Lines chief who saved himself from the Titanic while so many others perished.
The early parts of this are a bit slow and tedious, with little new or exciting information, kind of like an extensive biographical term paper. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Donald J. Bingle
Some interesting info about Bruce Ismay and the Titanic but I found the writing confusing at times. Still, I would recommend.Published 11 months ago by lgr
Others say it more eloquently, and with more detail, but here's the bottom line on this book. Two thirds of it is a look at the life of J. Bruce Ismay in the context of Titanic. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Born Band Creature
One of several books ordered and received but i have not had time to read yet. Looking forward to reading it.Published 13 months ago by carol hancock
Ever since my Titanic fascination started I've had a soft spot for Ismay. I felt he was tormented by the American press and thought it extremely unfair to put all the blame on his... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Roxanne
The best part of the book for me is the description of the sinking and the subsequent rescue of the survivors. The hour by hour account of J. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Cesar Barron
Not enough scholarly work has been written about J. Bruce Ismay, the White Star Lines chief who saved himself from the Titanic while so many others perished. Read morePublished 20 months ago by chatter
I can't figure out whether this book is a nonfiction exploration of Bruce Ismay and his relationship to the Titanic, or a literary musing upon Joseph Conrad's novels and short... Read morePublished 20 months ago by S. Daniel
I'll admit it, I never saw the movie "Titanic". I may be the only person alive who can honestly say that. I am interested in history, however, so picked up this book to read. Read morePublished 23 months ago by kdea473