Award-winning historian Frances Wilson delivers a gripping new account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, looking at the collision and its aftermath through the prism of the demolished life and lost honor of the ship’s owner, J. Bruce Ismay. In a unique work of history evocative of Joseph Conrad’s classic novel Lord Jim, Wilson raises provocative moral questions about cowardice and heroism, memory and identity, survival and guilt—questions that revolve around Ismay’s loss of honor and identity as his monolithic venture—a ship called “The Last Word in Luxury” and “The Unsinkable”—was swallowed by the sea and subsumed in infamy forever.
On the 100th anniversary of the Titanic (the ship's name a shorthand for both the event and its importance) is a poignant story that unlike so many about the ship is fresh and powerful in its impact. Wilson's biography of J. Bruce Ismay, the managing director and chairman of the White Star Line, is powerful in its simple presentation of the events and evidence that shattered Ismay's life that April night and left him alive for the rest of his 25 years. … more
In the Congressional investigation that was conducted in New York City just days after the tragic sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 J. Bruce Ismay claimed that he was nothing more than a passenger on the ill-fated ship. To most observers this seemed to be a rather preposterous position to take. You see J. Bruce Ismay just happened to be chairman and managing director of the White Star Line, the owner of the Titanic. What made matters considerably worse for Mr. Ismay was his decision to save himself … more