cover image Queen Mary 2: The Birth of a Legend

Queen Mary 2: The Birth of a Legend

Philip Plisson. ABRAMS, $50 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5613-1

A ""giant of the seas,"" the transatlantic liner Queen Mary 2 is longer than the Eiffel Tower is high and can carry more passengers than any ship in history (up to 3,090, in addition to 1,253 crew members). This book provides an in-depth look at the ship, with photos illustrating the laborious construction process. Everything about the QM2 is dizzying, from the 17,000 people involved in its construction to the amenities offered on board, which include a planetarium, dog kennels, five meals a day plus snacks and a ""College at Sea"" program. The opening text describes the ship's history and capabilities, and is full of impressive facts (for example, the QM2 is the biggest consumer of caviar worldwide, and 1,000 bottles of champagne are drunk every day). However, the book was produced with the collaboration of Cunard and its mother company Carnival, and the text at times resembles that of a promotional brochure (""In true Cunard tradition, passengers on board the QM2 will see the vastness of the ocean seascape matched by the evocative luxury of the ship's Art Deco interior""). Many photos document the construction process, from the cutting of the first plate to the interior decoration. Though views of the cranes on the dry docks or scaffolding around the stern are not conventionally beautiful, they are fascinating in their own way. Images of the first months of sailing show the ship in all its glory, welcomed by revelers in Martinique and gliding past the Statue of Liberty to reach New York's harbor. This lavish book is an appropriate tribute to the luxury of the QM2; even those who will never be able to afford a ride on the ocean liner will enjoy seeing how it came to life. More than 300 color illustrations.