December 18, 1995 12:00 PM

by James Steele

“Long as a street and lofty as a tower,” English poet laureate John Masefield wrote of her. The RMS Queen Mary—now sadly and seedily berthed in Long Beach, Calif.—was one of the great icons of ’30s engineering and chic: Some 10 million rivets held her steel plates together; Dietrich and Coward roamed her decks. Steele fuses the ship’s technical and social history in this splendidly designed book, which is illustrated not just with photos of the cool hard-edged art deco rooms but also with period ephemera—menus ad posters baggage labels—that recall the era just as vividly. (Chronicle/Phaidon, $55)

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