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Titanic. The Marilyn Monroe of ocean liners. A sleek, sultry beauty, taken out way before her time. A kind of 21st century Flying Dutchman, with interiors by Cesar Ritz, still striving to achieve the waters of a port she can never reach.

Fuelled by a subtle mixture of horror, fascination and sheer, fatal glamour, she surges heedlessly across the still, starlit calm of our collective subconscious, hell bent on achieving her chilling, near midnight rendezvous with her killer.

Titanic is a brilliantly lit stage, carrying her cast of exotic, terminally endangered extras toward an abyss at once both unfathomable and inconceivable.

Here’s where any similarity with any other tome about the Titanic ends.

For the first time ever, a succession of key characters and groups of individuals come to the fore. Center stage, over seventeen chapters, we meet the men whose decisions, actions and omissions combined like some slow burning powder trail to trigger a final, cataclysmic conclusion; the foundering, in mid Atlantic, of the biggest moving object ever seen on the face of the planet.

One by one, a series of individuals take a bow. Seemingly omnipotent owners and hugely experienced ship’s officers. Engineers and designers. Would be rescuers and embattled wireless operators.

We meet them as individuals, not supermen. Their histories, backgrounds and life experiences are assessed for the first time ever, putting their actions on the night that Titanic sank into a context, a light as stark as that of the distress rockets, arcing into the sky…