The Journey of a Lifetime

As the son of an ocean liner company founder, George Reuchlin’s path in life was clear-cut. The twenty-one years between his first voyage to the United States at the age of sixteen and his last aboard the Titanic, would see the world of Transatlantic travel flourish like never before. In 'The Journey of a Lifetime', Cathalijne Boland brings to life Reuchlin’s personal story in a time of mass migration, technological innovation and dramatic shipwrecks.

Original title
Reuchlins reis
Cathalijne Boland

Between 1880 and 1914, twenty million immigrants — including many eastern Europeans and Russian Jews — would leave Europe for the Americas. As he prepared to succeed his father at the Rotterdam-based Holland America Line, George Reuchlin would work on both sides of the Atlantic and travel through central Europe to understand Europe’s exodus.

A rapidly changing society, with the upsurge of trains, factories and urbanisation, and plagued by financial crises, cholera epidemics and antisemitism, had left many desperate to seek better fortunes elsewhere. The dramatic scale of this mass migration was encouraged and enabled by the stiff competition between ocean liner companies across the continent to build the biggest and fastest ships possible. In George’s lifetime, the crossing dropped from a journey of weeks to a mere five days.

Through careful archival research, Boland brings to life in wonderful detail a bygone world of Transatlantic migration which largely ended with the outbreak of World War One. While George may have belonged to the upper crust of European society, ocean travel brought together people from different backgrounds with one shared desire: to find a home they could call their own. The divisions between classes and gender roles were stark, but Boland’s reconstruction spans the worlds of the first-to third-class travellers and their families at home.

Part personal story, part social and maritime history, The Journey of a Lifetime is an enthralling and evocative piece of non-fiction storytelling with strong echoes and parallels today.

‘Sharp […] Fascinating […] I’m still racking my brain as to how Boland pulled it off. Let’s stick with talent.’


‘Boland manages to bring her story close to the reader, even while including compelling documents and facts […] Once you start reading, you cannot stop. A fine writing style, right to the very last page.’ ✱✱✱✱✱

Cathalijne Boland
As an editor and journalist, Cathalijne Boland (b. 1970) has always worked in the world of books and magazines. 'The Journey of a Lifetime' is her non-fiction debut.
Part ofNon-Fiction
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