A Man and His Ship: America's Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the S.S. United States

by Steven Ujifusa

Hardcover, 2012



Call number




Simon & Schuster (2012), Edition: 1st, 448 pages


Examines the life and career of William Francis Gibbs (1886-1967), the Philadelphia native whose lifelong ambition was to build the biggest, fastest, safest liner ever.

User reviews

LibraryThing member starkravingmad
Given the very narrow topic of the book, one would (fearfully) expect a boring narrative on ships. Instead, the author has delivered a highly engaging and informative story of the great age of ocean liners, and one man and one ship in particular. The first half of the book is the build-up to the
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triumph of the "United States", the (arguably) most graceful and fastest cruise liner ever built. Even if you're not a fan of ships, cruises or even the water for that matter, it's a wonderful, heart warming, yet bitter-sweet story. Well worth a read. It's made me want to join the conservation society.
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LibraryThing member Shrike58
The title of this book is very much truth in advertising, as one gets the life story of the great American naval architect William Francis Gibbs and his dream to see the greatest ocean liner in the world fly the American flag; the dream being realized in the form of the S.S. "United States." Much
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of this story is a parable of salvage, as Gibbs preserved his dreams after his father's business interests collapsed, and molded himself into the sort of person who could achieve his dreams. This is also a history of the pursuit of the so-called "Blue Riband;" the international competition to build the fastest North Atlantic liner in the world. This book makes it very clear that this was the sort of race one only pursued with a national government at one's back, as many of these efforts were really not cost effective; particularly after such body blows to the industry as the suppression of mass migration to the United States, World War I, and the Great Depression. If I have a particular gripe it's that Ujifusa does becomes bogged down in personal anecdote at times, but this is still a good introduction to a bygone time and a great American technologist.
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Athenaeum Literary Award (Winner — 2012)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

448 p.; 9.25 inches


1451645074 / 9781451645071
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