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The Great Luxury Liners 1927-1954, par W.H. Miller Jr. (Dover Publications)
Of all the craft man has designed to transport himself over the seas, none is more impressive than the great luxury liners. More than mere transportation, they were floating palaces — sea-going symbols of opulence, glamor and romance. In their heyday — the years covered by this book — they ferried passengers across the oceans in a style and magnificence unequalled before or since. As a special breed of ship, the great luxury liners are all but extinct today, a glorious chapter in the history of transportation. This sumptuous volume, beautifully printed on high-quality coated stock, recalls that splendid quarter-century when the great steamers were the proudest ships afloat.
Beginning in the 1920s, over 180 superb photographs depict a total of 101 ships, ranging from earlier vessels like the Leviathan of the United States Lines (largest ship ever to fly the U.S. flag) and Cunard's Mauretania, which held the Atlantic speed record for 22 years, to the United States. The photographs (many never before published and some quite rare) include exterior views from many different vantage points and numerous interior shots. Here are the incredibly lavish staterooms, suites, dining rooms and lounges of such ships as the Ile de France, Normandie, Rex, Europa, Berengaria, Queen Mary and many other liners, whose opulence was to become the very symbol of the modern luxury liner. The main dining room of the Normandie, for example, was larger than the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. With its hammered bronze, glass and elaborate Lalique fixtures, it was nearly as impressive.
Luxury is not the only aspect covered here, however. During World War II many of the ships, camouflaged, were pressed into service as troop carriers. Among the vivid scenes included are shots of troops abandoning the sinking transport President Coolidge in 1942, and the arrival of the Queen Mary in New York harbor in 1945 with the first shipload of returning soldiers. Other striking images include the ill-fated Normandie ablaze at her New York pier, and the same ship capsized on her side; seamen on the Polish liner Pilsudski chopping ice from the ship after a frigid winter voyage; and the Morro Castle adrift and still smoldering off Asbury Park, N.J. after a tragic fire that claimed 112 lives.
These and many more classic images make this a volume every ocean liner enthusiast will want to have. William H. Miller, Jr., historian at the American Merchant Marine Museum, has supplied an introduction and informative captions for each vessel shown. Captions include background and history of the ship, tonnage, size, engines, builders, etc. The giant steamships, with their leisurely speeds and high upkeep, were inevitably doomed by the advent of continent-hopping passenger jets. But this nostalgic tribute is sure to find a large and appreciative audience among those for whom the great liners will always be "the only way to cross."
Ouvrage disponible chez Amazon : Great Luxury Liners, 1927-1954: A Photographic Record

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