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Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World    by Hugh Brewster order for
Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage
by Hugh Brewster
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2013 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The world knows the name TITANIC. It evokes the tragic end of the unsinkable ship. The loss of so many lives and the devastating headlines of the demise of a brand spanking-new, luxurious steamship.

The list of the deceased seems interminable. First Class passengers and Third Class alike sank to the dark sea that awaited them. Hugh Brewster's Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage reveals what the trip - until its last disastrous day - would have been like for the privileged holding First Class passage tickets. The ambience of the public rooms could easily be compared to any luxury hotel in the world.

Staterooms and suites rivaled the public rooms with sumptuous fittings. The passengers' clothes arrived on board in steamer trunks, up to fourteen in one stateroom! Kennels were available for those owners who could not be parted from their dogs.

Over fifteen hundred died. Most of the third class passengers were hoping to join family members who had gone ahead to start a new life. Some were hoping to find good jobs to support themselves and those back home who could not find work. Their lives were snuffed out prematurely.

Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage focuses on the First Class passengers - who they were and their connections (one was a confidant of President Taft). They included John Jacob Astor, Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife Lucy, Dorothy Gibson. The list goes on. All the First Class survivors were prominent in business, society, the arts, or simply for being filthy rich. Many of them are introduced in short bios in the back of the book.

I picked up this work with trepidation, feeling it just might not be my cup of tea. How wrong can one be? I was fascinated from the first page to the last. I especially appreciated the last chapters depicting the actual sinking and the actions of both passengers and crew. Exciting? You bet. The research on this work must have taken up many an hour.

I highly recommend Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage to you. It almost brings to life the actual sinking of the unsinkable ship.

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