Review – Audiobook: Voyagers of the Titanic by Richard Davenport-Hines
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publish Date: March 6, 2012
Format: Audio, 11 hours | 18 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy to Intermediate
Rating: 4 of 5
Everyone knows the story of the Titanic, the great ocean liner that struck an iceberg while crossing the Atlantic in 1912. When constructed it was thought to be unsinkable, but on that frigid night in the North Atlantic waters, the ship sank in two and a half hours, killing 1,517 of the 2,240 aboard.
Unlike many of the other accounts of the Titanic that focused on the sinking of the ship itself, this book provides the story behind many of the passengers on the ship, the crew and the people who built her. It’s clear the author has done exhaustive research and has uncovered the tiniest details.
We learn who was on the ship, why they were traveling, what class ticket they bought, what it cost in today’s dollars, what the passengers brought with them, what type of cargo was on the ship, what type of food was served in each dining room, who canceled their voyage after having already bought tickets, who booked at the last minute and why. These are just a few of the many details recounted. We get a tour of the ship, hear what the rooms were like, what amenities were provided for the passengers, what they did upon boarding, what a typical day was like for those in each class (1st, 2nd or 3rd). The ship sounded glorious with one exception, if the weather turned foul and the seas were rough, the passengers were uncomfortable despite their exquisite surroundings.
We learn heartbreaking details of families separated as decisions were made on who went into the lifeboats, learn how the crew handled the situation and get a general feel of the conditions on the ship. First hand information from survivors and conversations overheard by them was also detailed. Families arrived at the port in New York to meet the Carpathia, the rescue ship, with hope that their loved one had survived. As I listened one of the things that kept coming to mind was how much communication and transportation has changed in the 100 years since the disaster. Many of the initial reports and media coverage were inaccurate.
Told in a serious documentary style, Robin Sachs’ powerful narration is easy to listen to. It’s a fascinating and absorbing account of the many individuals who’s lives were touched by the catastrophe. The many, many facts and figures recited are too overwhelming to be recalled offhand unless you have a fantastic memory but the individual, personal stories will resonate with the listener. Titanic history buffs who want to absorb every detail and note every fact would appreciate having a print copy of book.
As I’ve mentioned when reviewing other non-fiction audiobooks, I miss having photographs, charts, maps, drawings and any other reference materials that would enhance my understanding of the story. More audio books are being produced with this type of information included in a pdf file but sadly this one did not.
In spite of the lack of visual reference material this is still a wonderful book. Non-fiction is often an easier choice than fiction for those new to audio and I recommend giving this one a listen.
Source: Review copy.
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