Cover image for The last voyage of the Andrea Doria : the sinking of the world's most glamorous ship
The last voyage of the Andrea Doria : the sinking of the world's most glamorous ship
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In the tradition of Erik Larson's Dead Wake comes The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria , about the sinking of the glamorous Italian ocean liner, including never-before-seen photos of the wreck today.

In 1956, a stunned world watched as the famous Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria sank after being struck by a Swedish vessel off the coast of Nantucket. Unlike the tragedy of the Titanic , this sinking played out in real time across radios and televisions, the first disaster of the modern age. Audiences witnessed everything that ensued after the unthinkable collision of two modern vessels equipped with radar: perilous hours of uncertainty; the heroic rescue of passengers; and the final gasp as the pride of the Italian fleet slipped beneath the Atlantic, taking some fifty lives with her. Her loss signaled the end of the golden age of ocean liner travel.

Now, Greg King and Penny Wilson offer a fresh look at this legendary liner and her tragic fate. Andrea Doria represented the romance of travel, the possibility of new lives in the new world, and the glamour of 1950s art, culture, and life. Set against a glorious backdrop of celebrity and La Dolce Vita, Andrea Doria 's last voyage comes vividly to life in a narrative tightly focused on her passengers - Cary Grant's wife; Philadelphia's flamboyant mayor; the heiress to the Marshall Field fortune; and many brave Italian emigrants - who found themselves plunged into a desperate struggle to survive. The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria follows the effect this trauma had on their lives, and brings the story up-to-date with the latest expeditions to the wreck.

Drawing on in-depth research, interviews with survivors, and never-before-seen photos of the wreck as it is today, The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria is a vibrant story of fatal errors, shattered lives, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Author Notes

Greg King is the author of more than fifteen internationally published works of history, including Twilight of Empire . His work has appeared in the Washington Post , Majesty Magazine , Royalty Magazine and Royalty Digest . He lives in the Seattle area.

Penny Wilson is the author of Lusitania with Greg King and several internationally published works of history on late Imperial Russia. Her historical work has appeared in Majesty Magazine , Atlantis Magazine , and Royalty Digest . She lives in Southern California with her husband and three Huskies.

Reviews 2

Kirkus Review

The history of an infamous shipwreck.In 1956, in dense fog, the Italian ship Andrea Doria sank off the coast of Nantucket, within miles of its destination at the port of New York. King and Wilson (Twilight of Empire: The Tragedy of Mayerling and the End of the Habsburgs, 2017, etc.) bring to their brisk, vivid narrative the prodigious research that marked their history of another maritime disaster, Lusitania (2015). But where the 1915 attack on a British liner by a German U-boat, killing all aboard, affected international hostilities, the sinking of the Andrea Doria did not even dent the fortunes of the liner industry. Most passengers and crew were rescued; later, many took other ocean voyages. Nor did the ship itself, which boasted beauty, modernity, and a special brand of Italian glamour, have the significance of the Titanic, which seemed a microcosm of social strata and aristocratic hubris. Passengers on the Andrea Doria included a few hugely wealthy Americans, traveling first class, returning from extended European holidays, while some Italians who boarded in Naples found themselves in claustrophobic accommodations. Most, though, were simply well-off. There were several clergymen and two actresses, one the wife of Cary Grant. The authors offer lively biographies of select passengers and crew, setting the stage for the drama that occurred at 11:11 p.m. on July 25, 1956, when the Swedish liner Stockholm, with an inexperienced seaman at its helm, smashed into the Andrea Doria's starboard side, "demolishing all in its path" and causing "a horrible cacophony of death and destruction." The authors masterfully evoke the anguish that ensued as passengerspanicked parents and frightened children, among themcrawled across the dangerously listing ship and perilously descended into lifeboats. Within hours, several rescue vessels arrived, including another luxury liner. The authors' recounting of the aftermath of the disasterinvestigation, litigation, and the lives of many survivorsthough informative, seems anticlimactic in comparison to the tense drama of the event.An assured, absorbing history of a disaster. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

This is an extensively documented account of the 1956 sinking of the Italian luxury liner, the Andrea Doria, after it was rammed by another ship just off the eastern coast of the U.S. Engaging text sets the scene, including weather conditions, the ship's history and safety record, its sumptuous design, and profiles of several passengers and crew, citing frequent quotes and anecdotes. The ship's 1,134-passenger manifest listed all kinds of travelers, including a Marshall Field's heiress, the mayor of Philadelphia, and a couple of Hollywood actresses. The initial collision is described in vivid detail, and ensuing events relate incidents of terror and confusion as the slowly sinking ship lists heavily, forcing people to shimmy down ropes that end far above waiting lifeboats. It's almost unbelievable that only 51 people died that night. Readers will find amazing stories of serendipitous luck, heroism, cowardice, and tragedy as they learn the fates of profiled individuals. An epilogue answers several questions, except one: why is this maritime disaster so often overlooked? This authoritative re-creation should generate renewed interest.