Titanic Lives
Richard Davenport-Hines, Read by John Sackville

Book cover image

Narrated By: John Sackville

Duration: 14 hours and 20 minutes

What to expect

Marking the centenary of the Titanic disaster, Titanic Lives is an utterly compelling exploration of the lives on board the most famous ship in history.

On the night of 14 April 1912, midway through her maiden voyage, the seemingly unsinkable Titanic hit an iceberg, sustaining a 300-feet gash as six compartments were wrenched open to the Atlantic Ocean. In little over two hours, the palatial liner nose-dived to the bottom of the sea. More than 1,500 people perished in the freezing waters. But who were they?

In Titanic Lives, Richard Davenport-Hines brings to life in fascinating and absorbing detail the stories of the men who built and owned the ship, the crew who serviced her and the passengers of all classes who sailed on her. The Titanic was a floating microcosm of Edwardian society – at the bottom of the ship was third class, filled with economic migrants and political and religious refugees hoping for a better life in the New World. Above them were hundreds of second-class passengers buoyed up by their prosperous respectability. On the upper decks were the hereditary rich and those of inconceivable wealth – American titans of industry such as John Jacob Astor IV, who was found with $4000 in sodden notes in his pockets. In this epic, sweeping history we are introduced to this broad cast of characters, from every class and every continent, as we follow their lives on board the ship through to the supreme dramatic climax of the disaster itself.

Published to coincide with the centenary of the sinking, Titanic Lives is an impeccably researched and utterly riveting history which re-creates the complexities, disparities and tensions of life one hundred years ago.

Genre

True stories: general, Social & cultural history

Listen to a sample

‘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 heart-breaking, story to tell.’ Julian Fellowes

‘Eloquent and absorbing… As well as being a fascinating work of social history, Titanic Lives is a remarkable study of empathy and its absence. As such it will stay afloat long after the armada of other Titanic books have gone down.’ Frances Wilson, Daily Telegraph

‘Though it seems shameful to admit it, the one certain benefit we have derived from the tragedy is a shattering human story that is also, when told as well as Davenport-Hines tells it, utterly compelling.’ John Carey, Sunday Times

‘[A] gripping study … the author paints a richly atmospheric portrait of an age when class consciousness was at its apogee.’ Literary Review

‘a substantial new account…This may well be, at last, the definitive Titanic book… Davenport-Hines relishes historical background and details, but he also has a good eye for riveting details…powerfully original. Davenport-Hines gives a brilliant account of the great global adventure of migration… This book is a considerable moral as well as historical achievement.’ Times Literary Supplement

‘brilliant social history’ The Spectator

‘[an] excellent new book’ Evening Standard

‘moving, original and deeply researched’ The Guardian

‘Though it seems shameful to admit it, the one certain benefit we have derived from the tragedy is a shattering human story that is also, when told as well as Davenport-Hines tells it, utterly compelling.’ John Carey, Sunday Times

‘With great sensitivity, Davenport-Hines dissects the apartheid-like social distinctions on board. After 100 years … Titanic’s last night is still terrifying.’ Nigel Jones, Guardian

‘Richard Davenport-Hines’s immaculately researched history brings an extraordinary cavalcade of characters to vivid life’ Sunday Telegraph