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Shadow of the Titanic

Shadow of the Titanic

The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived

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IN the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, the icy waters of the North Atlantic reverberated with the desperate screams of more than 1,500 men, women, and children—passengers of the once majestic liner Titanic. Then, as the ship sank to the ocean floor and the passengers slowly died from hypothermia, an even more awful silence settled over the sea. The sights and sounds of that night would haunt each of the vessel’s 705 survivors for the rest of their days.

Although we think we know the story of Titanic—the famously luxurious and supposedly unsinkable ship that struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Britain to America—very little has been written about what happened to the survivors after the tragedy. How did they cope in the aftermath of this horrific event? How did they come to remember that night, a disaster that has been likened to the destruction of a small town?

Drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished letters, memoirs, and diaries as well as interviews with survivors’ family members, award-winning journalist and author Andrew Wilson reveals how some used their experience to propel themselves on to fame, while others were so racked with guilt they spent the rest of their lives under the Titanic’s shadow. Some reputations were destroyed, and some survivors were so psychologically damaged that they took their own lives in the years that followed.

Andrew Wilson brings to life the colorful voices of many of those who lived to tell the tale, from famous survivors like Madeleine Astor (who became a bride, a widow, an heiress, and a mother all within a year), Lady Duff Gordon, and White Star Line chairman J. Bruce Ismay, to lesser known second- and third-class passengers such as the Navratil brothers—who were traveling under assumed names because they were being abducted by their father.

Today, one hundred years after that fateful voyage, Shadow of the Titanic adds an important new dimension to our understanding of this enduringly fascinating story.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451671582 | 
  • March 2012
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Read an Excerpt

One

A FANCY-DRESS BALL IN
DANTE’s HELL


Sunday, April 14, 1912, dawned bright and clear. There was a feeling of optimism in the air, a sense that anything was possible. The ship seemed to glide over a sea of glass. For first-class passenger Colonel Archibald Gracie, the RMS Titanic was a “floating palace,”1 a high-class hotel that cut through the waters of the Atlantic with a majesty and power he had never experienced before. As he stood on the first-class deck, he noticed that the sea was so level he could barely make out a ripple.

Since Wednesday, when the ship had departed... see more

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