A stirring narrative of the rapid development of the great transatlantic steamships, from paddle-wheelers to the sleek luxury greyhounds of the modern era — and the men who designed and ran them.During the nineteenth century, the roughest but most important ocean passage in the world lay between Britain and the United States. Bridging the Atlantic Ocean by steamship was a defining, remarkable feat of the era. Over time, Atlantic steamships became the largest, most complex machines yet devised. They created a new transatlantic world of commerce and travel, reconciling former Anglo-American enemies and bringing millions of emigrants to transform the United States.
In Transatlantic, the experience of crossing the Atlantic is re-created in stunning detail from the varied perspectives of first class, steerage, officers, and crew. The dynamic evolution of the Atlantic steamer is traced from Brunel's Great Western of 1838 to Cunard's Mauretania of 1907, the greatest steamship ever built. Set against the classic tension of modern technology contending with a formidable natural environment, the story is rife with disasters. The key element is steam power: the universal, magical, transforming microchip of the nineteenth century.