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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solving the "Mystery Ship", November 25, 2006
This review is from: Titanic and the Mystery Ship (Paperback)
What an amazing investigation into the well known, "mystery ship" piece of the sinking of the Titanic. How easy it is for people to develop a prejudice that continues to color events. I kept thinking of doctrinal fallacies which become a part of many churches and Christian history as I read the growing whimsies of Lord Mersey (ironic that the last name of his nemesis was truly "Lord") and others who, with greater and lesser awareness, condemn a just man. Author Molony does a masterful job of plying us with facts and only occasionally tells of the bias or intention that may underlie them. In a similar vein, Molony is long on evidence and short on opinion. At the same time he very subtly kept my emotions alive, pro or con, for the many characters that move in and out of the story. Especially that is true of my exasperation for the judges and my compassion for the victims--with apologies to the author who is not as blatant as I am about sorting out the "goodies" and "baddies."

I think I've never read about a man being on trial without being on trial. Captain Lord of the Californian--historically besmirched as the Titanic's "mystery ship"--is judged, condemned, and socially hung with nary a word that his own trial is filling the gaps of the anguish and fury surrounding this monstrous tragedy. It is scapegoating at its finest. Sadly, Lord was a very honest and decent man. More sadly, these qualities may well have been his downfall. It's happened before. Happily, good men keep on going: during the next 50 years of his life Lord kept his cool without loosing sight of what he had to say about the events in the North Atlantic on that chilling night in April, 1912. Now this book lends credibility to Lord's version of the story.

The narrative of this book is very intricate and reads like a good mystery. My own skills and interests are such that I usually avoid reading such tightly woven and legalistic stories. Nevertheless, Molony kept my attention and my comprehension throughout the book. Just when I'd think he was losing me, he would go back over the latest twists and turns and in such a way as to bring me back on track, without being redundant and with an uncanny knack for throwing still another little wrinkle into the plot. To show my level of interest, I took the book to my class exam the other day and kept reading rather than--as always before--starting to grade the exams as they are handed in. Maybe a good reason for such fascination is the ongoing oxymoron between the prevailing context of that cold and brutal night and the passions of the mystifying hindsight to follow. I don't think Molony "crafts" all this as an artist so much as he works his way through his own deep and heartfelt sense of an injustice and maybe rights a longstanding wrong. Molony himself doesn't quite say this, but I think he has solved the "mystery ship": it wasn't the Californian!

Reviewed by Stephen Jones, PhD, Professor of Sociology
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