38 books like The Only Way to Cross

By John Maxtone-Graham,

Here are 38 books that The Only Way to Cross fans have personally recommended if you like The Only Way to Cross. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of RMS Mauretania (1907): Queen of the Ocean

John G. Sayers Author Of Secrets of the Great Ocean Liners

From my list on ocean liners and cruises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a passionate, long-time collector of Ocean Liner material. I am recognized as a Member of the Board of The Ephemera Society of America, the Board of The Friends of Fort George, the Council of the British Ephemera Society and other historical and collector organizations. I was thrilled to be Recipient of the 2017 Award of Merit by The Ephemera Society of America, I was engaged by The Bodleian Library at Oxford University to author a book which captured some of the highlights of my extensive 60-year collection of Ocean Liner material which has been donated to the University. This book, sold globally, is the result of that work. 

John's book list on ocean liners and cruises

John G. Sayers Why did John love this book?

This is a biography but it’s about a famous ship, the Mauretania, rather than a famous person. Through her illustrious career the Mauretania—affectionately called the ‘Maurycarried passengers in speed and style across the Atlantic while holding the Blue Riband for more than 20 years. In service from 1907 to 1934, she spanned the era of the great luxurious liners.

Lots of textual material, which I like, although there’s enough photos to illustrate the various aspects of her life. If you like detail, this book has it. My only criticism is light coverage of her important role in the First World War. Read this in conjunction with the histories of her sister ship and running mate, the ill-fated Lusitania. They provided a rotating weekly service across the Atlantic for 8 years, and were equally luxurious, but their stories are far from identical.

By David Hutchings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked RMS Mauretania (1907) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FIVE YEARS in the making, RMS Mauretania and her sister the Lusitania represented a new era in British shipbuilding. Ostensibly built to compete against record-breaking German behemoths, the Mauretania was not only one of the first major ships to be turbine-driven or have four propellers - she was the largest moving structure ever to have been created by man at that time. And, soon enough, she would become the fastest as well. But the Mauretania wasn't just built for luxury. When war was declared in August 1914, she was pressed into service as a troop- and hospital ship. Where once…


Book cover of Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy

John G. Sayers Author Of Secrets of the Great Ocean Liners

From my list on ocean liners and cruises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a passionate, long-time collector of Ocean Liner material. I am recognized as a Member of the Board of The Ephemera Society of America, the Board of The Friends of Fort George, the Council of the British Ephemera Society and other historical and collector organizations. I was thrilled to be Recipient of the 2017 Award of Merit by The Ephemera Society of America, I was engaged by The Bodleian Library at Oxford University to author a book which captured some of the highlights of my extensive 60-year collection of Ocean Liner material which has been donated to the University. This book, sold globally, is the result of that work. 

John's book list on ocean liners and cruises

John G. Sayers Why did John love this book?

This is not a biography of a ship, but rather a focus on the tragedy of the loss of the Lusitania, torpedoed by a German submarine in 1915. This book is heavily textual, as would be expected, so if you like lots of pictures to accompany a story, this is not the book for you.

It was published in 2002, well before the deluge of books produced in 2015, the centenary of the Lusitania tragedy. Those books speculated regarding her loss, attempting to pin the tragedy on a ‘bad guy’. Not so Ms. Preston. Timing-wise, Diana Preston’s book fortunately precedes the rush to speculate. Although she looks at the possible wartime undercurrents, she puts the event in the historical context of the time.

So, if you’re going to read the various 2015 era books about the tragedy, read Diana’s book first.

By Diana Preston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lusitania as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On May 7, 1915, toward the end of her 101st eastbound crossing, from New York to Liverpool, England, R.M.S. Lusitania-pride of the Cunard Line and one of the greatest ocean liners afloat-became the target of a terrifying new weapon and a casualty of a terrible new kind of war. Sunk off the southern coast of Ireland by a torpedo fired from the German submarine U-20, she exploded and sank in eighteen minutes, taking with her some twelve hundred people, more than half of the passengers and crew. Cold-blooded, deliberate, and unprecedented in the annals of war, the sinking of the…


Book cover of Olympic & Titanic: Ocean Liners of the Past

John G. Sayers Author Of Secrets of the Great Ocean Liners

From my list on ocean liners and cruises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a passionate, long-time collector of Ocean Liner material. I am recognized as a Member of the Board of The Ephemera Society of America, the Board of The Friends of Fort George, the Council of the British Ephemera Society and other historical and collector organizations. I was thrilled to be Recipient of the 2017 Award of Merit by The Ephemera Society of America, I was engaged by The Bodleian Library at Oxford University to author a book which captured some of the highlights of my extensive 60-year collection of Ocean Liner material which has been donated to the University. This book, sold globally, is the result of that work. 

John's book list on ocean liners and cruises

John G. Sayers Why did John love this book?

This book is a refreshing approach because it covers the period prior to Titanic’s disastrous Maiden Voyage, in material reprinted from an early edition of The Shipbuilder. Do not read another Titanic disaster book until you have read this insight and appreciated the foldout deck plans and longitudinal cutaways to see the actual cabin and deck arrangements. They really help to explain many aspects of the disaster story.

The contents lean heavily on engineering matters, but you don’t have to be an engineer to fully appreciate the design work that went into these more-or-less identical sister ships, and it’s worth noting that much of the Titanic controversy swirled around alleged design flaws.

Published in 1970, this is a reprint of the original 1912 book which is well beyond the average book buyer’s budget. A caveat—even this one isn’t cheap, and you will have to search online.

By Shipbuilder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Olympic & Titanic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Transatlantic Liners 1950-1970

John G. Sayers Author Of Secrets of the Great Ocean Liners

From my list on ocean liners and cruises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a passionate, long-time collector of Ocean Liner material. I am recognized as a Member of the Board of The Ephemera Society of America, the Board of The Friends of Fort George, the Council of the British Ephemera Society and other historical and collector organizations. I was thrilled to be Recipient of the 2017 Award of Merit by The Ephemera Society of America, I was engaged by The Bodleian Library at Oxford University to author a book which captured some of the highlights of my extensive 60-year collection of Ocean Liner material which has been donated to the University. This book, sold globally, is the result of that work. 

John's book list on ocean liners and cruises

John G. Sayers Why did John love this book?

I have found Bill Miller’s book to be of massive value in tracking the changes in postwar ships. The primary reason is that many ships changed hands—and names—over that period. Sometimes the names changed more than once! The cause was the sharp drop in Transatlantic and other passenger shipping as air travel exploded in popularity. Smaller, more agile operators purchased ships surplus to the requirements of the larger operators such as Canadian Pacific and revamped and renamed the ships.

Bill Miller has useful illustrations of the ships involved. For example, a picture of the Dutch liner Willem Ruys, which was sold to the Lauro Line and, with a vastly different design profile, became the Achille Lauro. Organized by shipping line, this is a fascinating read and an insight into the changes in liner layout and design over the period.

By William H. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Transatlantic Liners 1950-1970 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Transatlantic Liners 1950-1970' is a glorious reference of a grand but bygone age to those passenger ships, large and small, that crossed the Atlantic. There were the likes of the 'Queen Mary' and 'Queen Elizabeth', 'SS United States', 'Caronia', 'Andrea Doria' but also smaller, less memorable ships such as the 'Noordam', 'Paryhia' and 'Laurentia'. The ships, over 150 of them, are grouped by owner--from the short-lived American Banner Line to Israel's Zim Lines. Each ship is given a full, detailed reference: details (routing, length, tonnage, builder, speed, passengers carried, etc.) as well as a full chronology of the vessel's career…


Book cover of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Stoney Compton Author Of Treadwell: A Novel of Alaska Territory

From my list on accurate immersion in a past time and place.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child I read and experienced history books as adventures. Adventure drew me to Alaska after a hitch in the Navy. I wanted to write an accurate historical novel about Juneau and the Treadwell Mine and began my research. I knew the Alaska Historical Library was the perfect place to begin. When I discovered the extensive photo collections, I flashed back to my admiration of the historical novels that impressed me. I borrowed technique and structure from all and incorporated imagery in my manuscript. My main goal was to successfully immerse the reader in a good novel about 1915 in Alaska Territory.

Stoney's book list on accurate immersion in a past time and place

Stoney Compton Why did Stoney love this book?

Dead Wake is fact that reads like fiction. Not often do I choose a book already knowing how it ends. His artistic rendering of the world in 1915 is alone worth the read. He introduces us to the passengers of the SS Lusitania, who they are, why they are on the ship, and he makes us care.

Larson limns Captains Turner of the Lusitania, and Schweiger of the U-20, the Imperial German submarine. The author carefully choreographs the final voyage of the doomed ship. The sinking is not the end of the story. 

The last third of the book is devoted to what happened after the torpedo hit. Captain Turner survives the attack as well as many of the passengers. This is a beautifully researched, but heartrending read. 

By Erik Larson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Dead Wake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds" and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover,…


Book cover of Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula

Robert Vitalis Author Of Oilcraft: The Myths of Scarcity and Security That Haunt U.S. Energy Policy

From my list on crazy things we believe on oil and world politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with the relationship between the United States and the Middle East since my freshman year at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where I began as a commuter, stuck in gasoline lines, during the “energy crisis” in the fall of 1973, and where I was among the first SUNY students to study abroad in Egypt after the United States resumed diplomatic relations. I wrote my dissertation on Egypt’s economic development (When Capitalists Collide: Business Conflict and the End of Empire in Egypt, 1995) and have been teaching and writing about U.S. involvement in the region for 35 years.

Robert's book list on crazy things we believe on oil and world politics

Robert Vitalis Why did Robert love this book?

Professor Laleh Khalili provides an absolutely riveting account of the transformation of the Gulf region, where the U.S. fifth fleet has operated since the 1990s, into a hub of world commerce in oil and arms. She argues that the lines between civilian and military logistics have grown increasingly blurred. To prove it, she takes us aboard the container ships, detours back to the time when British firms and government agencies ruled, explores the ports and free zones, follows the rails and roads, and uncovers the complex labor relations that make war and trade possible. 

By Laleh Khalili,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sinews of War and Trade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the map of global trade, China is now the factory of the world. A parade of ships full of raw commodities-iron ore, coal, oil-arrive in its ports, and fleets of container ships leave with manufactured goods in all directions. The oil that fuels China's manufacturing comes primarily from the Arabian peninsula. Much of the material shipped from China are transported through the ports of Arabian peninsula, Dubai's Jabal Ali port foremost among them. China's 'maritime silk road' flanks the peninsula on all sides.

Sinews of War and Trade is the story of what the making of new ports and…


Book cover of Set Sail for Murder

Carmen Radtke Author Of The Case of the Missing Bride

From my list on mysteries set on ships and trains.

Why am I passionate about this?

After years dedicated to the hard facts of a newspaper reporter’s life, including a sting covering the police beat, Carmen Radtke has changed her focus to fiction. She’s been fascinated by both history and mystery as long as she can remember and stays dedicated to the truth behind the lie, and the joys of in-depth research. As a repeated emigrant, she is enthralled by voyages into the unknown and the courage (or madness) that takes.

Carmen's book list on mysteries set on ships and trains

Carmen Radtke Why did Carmen love this book?

Carolyn Hart is one of those cozy mystery writers who effortlessly reel me into their world. Set Sail for Murder satisfies my longing for travel with its itinerary and the lush vivid descriptions, as well as having an enjoyable mystery at its core. As a former journalist, I’m also a sucker for retired reporters turned sleuth. I read this first on a train, and it made the hours fly by. As soothing as the sound of waves gently lapping a boat. 

By Carolyn G. Hart, Carolyn G. Hart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Set Sail for Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Though retired newspaper reporter Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins, Henrie O to her friends, once turned down a marriage proposal from Jimmy Lennox, he's still one of her most cherished friends. So when he asks for her help on behalf of his wife, world-famous documentary filmmaker Sophia Montgomery, Henrie O reluctantly agrees to join them on a Baltic cruise. Sophia is the stepmother to the now-grown heirs of a great fortune, who are none too happy that she controls their inheritance. But do they really want her dead? Jimmy thinks so, and he wants Henrie O to prove it.

On the cruise,…


Book cover of The Golden Rendezvous

Carmen Radtke Author Of The Case of the Missing Bride

From my list on mysteries set on ships and trains.

Why am I passionate about this?

After years dedicated to the hard facts of a newspaper reporter’s life, including a sting covering the police beat, Carmen Radtke has changed her focus to fiction. She’s been fascinated by both history and mystery as long as she can remember and stays dedicated to the truth behind the lie, and the joys of in-depth research. As a repeated emigrant, she is enthralled by voyages into the unknown and the courage (or madness) that takes.

Carmen's book list on mysteries set on ships and trains

Carmen Radtke Why did Carmen love this book?

Fast-paced, exciting, with enough twists to keep me reading without a single break – this is one of my all-time favourites by prolific author Alistair MacLean. I found myself chuckling and, in the next instant, holding my breath as the First Officer has to outwit terrorists who have taken over the tramp carrier cum cruise ship “Campari.” But what I enjoy most is the mix of humour and lightheartedness that balance the high octane thrills which are grounded in meticulous research.

By Alistair MacLean,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Golden Rendezvous as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A timeless classic of modern-day piracy from the acclaimed master of action and suspense.

Aboard the SS Campari, all is not well.

For Johnny Carter, the Chief Officer, the voyage has already begun badly; but it's only when the Campari sails that evening, after a succession of delays that he realises something is seriously wrong.

A member of the crew is suddenly missing and the stern-to-stern search only serves to increase tension. Then violence erupts and suddenly the whole ship is in danger. Is the Campari a victim of modern day piracy? And what of the strange cargo hidden below…


Book cover of The Cat's Table

Amanda Addison Author Of Boundless Sky

From my list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land.

Why am I passionate about this?

Stories of migration journeys and their knock-on impact through the generations are part of my family history. Like Jacques, the key protagonist in Austerlitz, I too wasn’t told the whole story of my family’s past. Stumbling on stories of colonialism, migration, and racism as an adult has opened up an understanding of a very different world to that of my childhood. The books I have recommended are all excellent examples of migration stories and through the use of beautiful prose pack a punch in a ‘velvet glove’.

Amanda's book list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land

Amanda Addison Why did Amanda love this book?

This really is a gem of a book. The reader is left guessing whether it is a memoir, auto-fiction, or stand-alone fiction. From its deceptively simple beginning, it cleverly deals with so many of life's big issues with a thoughtful lightness of touch. The book is written from the perspective of grown-up Michael, but Ondaatje explores the confusion and frustration of the child who was made to sail halfway around the world to a new home and the subsequent impact the journey has on the adult Michael. 

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cat's Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner bound for England - a 'castle that was to cross the sea'. At mealtimes, he is placed at the lowly 'Cat's Table' with an eccentric group of grown-ups and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship makes its way across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, the boys become involved in the worlds and stories of the adults around them, tumbling from one adventure and delicious discovery to another, 'bursting all over the place like freed mercury'. And at night, the boys spy…


Book cover of A Path in the Mighty Waters: Shipboard Life and Atlantic Crossings to the New World

Cian T. McMahon Author Of The Coffin Ship: Life and Death at Sea During the Great Irish Famine

From my list on maritime social history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an emigrant myself (I left Ireland in the late 1980s), I’ve always been interested in understanding the process of moving from one place to another; of existing in that liminal space between “being here” and “being there.” I spent several years researching the letters and diaries of nineteenth-century Irish migrants for my book, The Coffin Ship, but found the answers led to new questions on how other peoples, in other places, have managed being somewhere between “here” and “there.” These are some of the books that have helped me along that long, emotional journey.

Cian's book list on maritime social history

Cian T. McMahon Why did Cian love this book?

Washington Irving once famously described a long sea voyage as a “blank page in existence.” Stephen Berry’s analysis of James Oglethorpe’s Georgia Expedition, which sailed from England to colonial Georgia in 1735, shows that the opposite was true. Rather than merely serve as the stage on which the human drama of migration played out, the sea voyage was a dynamic actor in the experience itself. Far from land, migrants had time and space to reconsider their views on society, religion, and identity in ways that shaped their new lives in America.

By Stephen R. Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Path in the Mighty Waters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A vivid and revealing portrait of shipboard life as experienced by eighteenth-century migrants from Europe to the New World

In October 1735, James Oglethorpe's Georgia Expedition set sail from London, bound for Georgia. Two hundred and twenty-seven passengers boarded two merchant ships accompanied by a British naval vessel and began a transformative voyage across the Atlantic that would last nearly five months. Chronicling their passage in journals, letters, and other accounts, the migrants described the challenges of physical confinement, the experiences of living closely with people from different regions, religions, and classes, and the multi-faceted character of the ocean itself.…


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