On April 14, 1912, as one thousand men prepared to die, J. Bruce Ismay, the owner of the RMS Titanic, jumped into a lifeboat filled with women and children and rowed away to safety. He survived the ship's sinking—but his life and reputation would never recover.
Examining Ismay through the lens of Joseph Conrad's prophetic novel Lord Jim—and using Ismay's letters to the beautiful Marion Thayer, a first-class passenger with whom he had fallen in love during the voyage—biographer Frances Wilson explores the shattered shipowner's desperate need to tell his story, to make sense of the horror of it all, and to find a way of living with the consciousness of his lost honor. For those who survived the Titanic, the world was never the same. But as Wilson superbly demonstrates, we all have our own Titanics, and we all need to find ways of surviving them.