- Hardcover: 312 pages
- Publisher: Carol Publishing Corporation; 1 edition (March 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1559723475
- ISBN-13: 978-1559723473
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,055,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Titanic Conspiracy: Cover-Ups and Mysteries of the World's Most Famous Sea Disaster Hardcover – March, 1996
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Gardiner and Van Der Vat include a lot of information on White Star Line, Harland and Wolff, and the role of J. P. Morgan (they are highly critical of the financier). They cover the origin of the "Olympic" class including the sea trials of both Olympic and Titanic very well. Chapters in this book also cover the lowering of lifeboats during Titanic's final hours, the role of the Carpathia, Californian (the authors sympathize more with the vilified Capt. Lord than do many other Titanic historians), Mount Temple, and other possible "mystery ships" at the scene, the behavior of the press when the survivors arrived at New York, and the American and British inquiries.
As an overview of the disaster and the hearings, the book is valuable. Where the authors fall short is on the bombshell they introduce at the beginning of their book. The idea is that the Olympic was put in place of the Titanic because the former was built with inferior steel and was in several accidents that cost the White Star Line a lot of money. The Olympic was getting a propeller blade repaired at the same time and place the Titanic was being prepared for her maiden voyage. The authors introduce the idea that the two ships switched identities and the troubled Olympic sailed in her sister's place. Her sinking was planned to be written off White Star's insurance (if they planned on sinking her, they certainly were not very organized in doing so). They back up this theory with the following weak reasons: (1) It was very easy the switch the identities of the ships because they were practically identical, (2) there were 55 last-minute cancellations, including that of J. P. Morgan who claimed to be sick but was seen with his French mistress the day after the sinking to be quite healthy, (3) Chief officer Wilde wrote his sister that he "STILL" did not like the ship but, since it was the Titanic's maiden voyage, why would he write the word "still," (4) only one of the Olympic vets below deck signed on with the Titanic as if they knew a dark secret.
The authors criticize the "nit-picking, repetitious" Senator William Alden Smith who conducted the American inquiry, but they are at times just as guilty. They keep going back to a fire that was allowed to burn in Titanic's sixth bunker only, on the last page, to admit the weakened bunker did not cause the ship to sink. The authors harp on the fact that there were several last minute crew changes at the top including Wilde joining the ship from the Olympic. Capt. Smith (of whom the authors are extremely critical) apparently wanted some of his Olympic crew with him. They never seem to go anywhere with this point. They also pick apart details not related to any conspiracies: the fact that Jack Phillips sent the message "Engine room full up to the boilers," which apparently is technologically inaccurate (well, he was under some stress at the time). They also seem strangely intrigued by J. J. Astor's body being found near a lifeboat when he never got into one (maybe it just floated there). As to the great conspiracy theory, they never get back to it until the very end of the book. Then they remark that people need conspiracies when disasters occur (i.e. the JFK assassination) as if they are backing off from the conspiracy bomb they themselves set. An intriguing photograph of "401" on the starboard propeller of Titanic as she rests in the Atlantic also proves to be a dud: "401" was the hull number NOT of the Olympic as one would suspect but of the Titanic (surprise) ; however, according to the authors, parts were borrowed from Titanic and used on the Olympic, so that number does not prove anything (indeed). Slapping "Conspiracy" and "Cover-Ups" on the cover of a book probably improved its sales, but it is really false advertising. The book is valuable for background information and for an overview of the many controversies surrounding the Titanic but, when it comes to the Great Conspiracy, it will disappoint.
This is not to say, though, Mr Gardiner and Mr. Van Der Vat fail to provide any fresh data, theory, or insight. They certainly are, to my uncertain knowledge, the first to assemble so many mysteries and inconsistancies of the disaster in one volume, but, and this is my primary quibble, they make grander proposals than their citations of fact can support They assume, it appears, that the reader will take them at their word rather that wish to see the evidence and decide for themselves. In a book that claims to be an expose', this is at once insulting to the reader and a little suspect.
Overall, I can only recomend the book as a collection of theories that are many times best researched elsewhere, or at least in titles in addition to this one.
The book itself is an almost anal-retentive study of course, architecture and materials (except for the enthusiast, who really cares what degree Smith turned on any trip other than Titanic's last?). I do not doubt that the work is meticulously researched, as it appears. The fact is that the content falls quite short of the implied mark. The book, at a glance, implies that in fact the Olympic may be the liner that sank (don't forget that there is a glossy picture that points to a number "401" on the wreckage of the port propeller; when you read near the end of the book, it turns out that even the authors acknowledge that the prop is, in fact, from the Titanic).
If this book had been titled "The Titanic Conspiracy" with a follow-up subtitle "The Erros, Omissions, Oversights, Distortions and Falsifications of the White Star Line" it would have been much more honest and credible. One could have even added at the end, like a bonus question, "Could the wreck actually be Titanic's sister ship Olympic?" As this theory has less credibility than the Floating Living Room Furniture theory, it should not be graced as a milestone of research or a primary foundation for the book.
Pure speculation, little or no evidence throughout most of the book. In short, "The Titanic Conspiracy" is a lot of smoke and no fire, and we all know that fire doesn't burn well under the water.
Most recent customer reviews
With , Mr. Gardiner's prose... Let's say he had a bad running boiler .Read more