This original and gripping history looks at the sinking of the Titanic through the prism of the life and lost honor of J. Bruce Ismay, the ship's owner. While many of the men aboard lit cigarettes and prepared for death, Ismay jumped into a lifeboat filled with women and children and rowed to safety, only to become the target of a hate campaign in the press that labeled him a coward and the one responsible for Titanic's excessive speed. Finding clues to Ismay's behavior in Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, and in previously unseen letters between Ismay and Marion Thayer, a first-class passenger with whom he had fallen in love, Frances Wilson unravels the reasons behind Ismay's jump, and the repercussions of his actions.
"It is a pleasure to read a book ... that offers something new on this topic. Titanic completists will certainly want this, and also ... readers of biography and Edwardian-era history."—Library Journal
"Wilson gives an absorbing account of the disaster and its cultural associations.... Her approach yields a rich meditation on the mere moment's hesitation that separates cowardice from courage."—Publishers Weekly