A Ship Accused


Nov 12, 2000
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A Ship Accused. The Case of the S.S. Californian: Re-Examined by Senan Molony.

The night the Titanic was sinking, there seemed to be another ship just a few miles away from the doomed liner. A ship close enough to have saved everyone if only she had responded. But she never did. This vessel became known as the “mystery ship”￾ and both the American and British inquiries independently determined that the identity of this ship was the Leyland liner S.S. Californian, commanded by Stanley Lord.

The guilt or innocence of the Californian is probably the most hotly debated issue in the entire Titanic cannon. Molony takes the position that Californian was NOT the mystery ship, and through a work of some 50 chapters, he lays out his arguments with extraordinary depth and detail. Like a lot of people, I felt the evidence as presented up to now was inconclusive. But if I had to make a stand, my feeling was that the evidence for Californian's guilt was the stronger. After finishing A Ship Accused, I have done a complete 180. To my mind, Molony has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Californian really was 20 odd miles away from where Titanic was sinking and could not have been the mystery ship.

If you have an interest in this subject, A Ship Accused is a must read. To see a picture of the book's cover, and read my complete review, head right on over to Molony's author page on my website:

http://titanicbooksite.com/author%20pages/MolonySenan.html

(the review will be found at the bottom of that page}

This book is oversized wraps (roughly 12 by 8 1/2) with a color card cover and 238 pages. It is nicely illustrated as well, with many photos never having been seen inprint since 1912. The cost for the book is $35 U.S., which includes worldwide shipping. For now, the only way to get a copy is to order it directly through the author. He can be reached at: [email protected]
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hmmmmmm...looks like I'll have to buy this, if nothing else, to know what the latest arguements are. Should be interesting to hear what critics on both sides of this minefield have to say about it.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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G'day Michael - thanks for bringing A Ship Accused to the board's attention!

I've...erm...debated this subject with the book's author on many occasions. Many, many occasions. And perhaps 'debate' isn't quite the right word for the direction some of our 'discussions' have taken. When we first interacted on this issue we were coming from very radically opposing viewpoints.

Reading this book was a revelation. This topic has not been approached with such a thorough effort at investigating new sources and a re-examination of the material that's out there since Reade's work. I've read it through, dived in and out of it, and now am eagerly anticipating somehow finding the time to read it again cover to cover. The extraordinarly depth and density of the material presented, with the remarkable richness of the writing and sources, is characteristic of Molony's work.

An extremely important book - it convinced me, an emphatic anti-Lordite, that the author has a case.

~ Inger
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Inger, I agree that the topic has not seen such a thorough approach since Reade, and would go a step further; this topic has never seen such a thorough approach ever. the documentation of evidence in this book is just amazing.

by the way, for those of you lucky enough to be attending BTS, copies of this book will be available for sale there.

best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Michael,
the first printing is actually sold out at this point, but Senan plans on running off a second printing, slightly corrected, in a few weeks. so far you still have to order this directly from the author, but if things work out, I hope to have some copies available for sale here in the U.S. (that's assuming you are in the U.S.) in a month or so. stay tuned, I will post a notice on my website on the bookstore page when they are available.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Dec 2, 2000
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For anyone interested in this thorny issue, I would say that this book is a must have along with the material posted...both pro and con...in the biliography. Having read through it, the material Senan presented has caused me to seriously rethink many of the ideas and notions I once held to. Enough so that at the very least, I've been avoiding taking sides on the matter as of late.

With the Californian, nothing is exactly as it seems on the surface, or as simple as we may wish it to be. Senan has demonstrated that in fine fashion.

I'm hoping that sometime in the near future, Senan will be able to find a mainstream publisher who can get this important work out to a much wider market.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Don Tweed

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Thanks to all the Michaels and to Inger.
If this book is capable of making one do a complete 180 on the subject it's a must read!

Thanks for all the info gang!, -Don
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Michael (TMIB) had written: "... Like a lot of people, I felt the evidence as presented up to now was inconclusive. But if I had to make a stand, my feeling was that the evidence for Californian's guilt was the stronger. After finishing A Ship Accused, I have done a complete 180."

Michael: Pardon the slightly tongue-in-cheek flavor of this, but Don's additional comments got me thinking.

If you were sort of "on the line" before (but somewhat more inclined to perceive culpability on the part of the Californian), then you did "a complete 180" ...

Wouldn't that mean that you're now once again "on the line" (but somewhat less inclined to perceive culpability)? ;^)

Just wondering. Maybe I'm taking the geometry too literally. :)

Cheers,
John
 
Sep 20, 2000
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OK. Time to be serious here.

Just to refresh my memory, I went back just now and carefully re-read *half* -- sorry, I just couldn't stomach any more -- of Senan Molony's research article "Titanic's Rockets", available right here at ET. And I'd STRONGLY advise anyone who's considering plunking down their hard-earned (or begged or borrowed or stolen) cash for this book -- a pretty pricey home-spun publication, to begin with -- to seriously consider doing likewise.

Unless SENAN has truly "done a 180" in his approach to Californian "research" -- including some much-needed remedial study of the innate ambiguity of the English pronoun "you" -- more than a few people are in for a tremendous let-down.

I'll admit it could happen; people do change. But if the book is *anything* like that article, "Oh, brother!" would be a massive understatement.

Rarely have I witnessed anyone so *completely* overlook the OBVIOUS in favor of more speculative -- and "spurious" is not too strong a word in my mind for many of the examples I witnessed -- interpretations of what *should* be "as plain as the nose on your face". The premises and logical constructions contained therin lend a whole new meaning to the word "tenuous".

But, hey! Don't take my word for it. Read "Titanic's Rockets". (Read the follow-up threads on the Message Board, as well.) If "may indicate" and "might suggest" have now magically become "evidence", then I'm a very confused researcher indeed. What's worse, I could barely identify a single "may indicate" or "might possibly signify" that I could even wholeheartedly embrace.

It's not real hard to spot them, either. Just go slowly sentence to sentence, and the logic will collapse before your very eyes. Just look for the snippet of testimony that say something like "Where were YOU?" (with no "emphasis mine" indicated, of course), and you'll immediately find an adamant assurance right on its heels that this somehow "proves" that the fellow was alone. (I suppose Lord Mersey should have learned "Brooklyn-ese". Then at least he could have correctly specified "youse" if he'd properly intended the plural!)

No thanks! I think I'll just wait till this one comes out in mass-market paperback.

Regards,
John
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Ack, John, math was never my best subject! ;-) how's about this, I did a complete 97.32675 turn, that would get me facing more or less perpendicular from where I was, right??? ;-)

Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Nov 12, 2000
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John, I would like to address your concerns about Senan's writing style. obviously, he has not changed his style in any significant manner. my take on his style is different from yours, however.

like you, I do suggest people read Senan's article on Titanic's rockets here on ET. the format is essentially the same for his book. he lays out the evidence by offering the testimony as recorded in the inquiries. he then gives his interpretation of that testimony.

are his interpretations one sided? sure they are! show me any author who has not had very strong opinions, especially on this subject. the strength of his writing style is that he gives you the testimony first, then follows that with his opinion. you as the reader are given the ammunition right up front to nod your head in agreement or say to yourself "Senan, you are out of your mind!". on his rocket theory, for example, I happen to think he is wrong, and likewise there are sections in his book where I disagreed with his opinion completely.

the thing about the book that turned my opinion on the issue is the depth of the research he has done, and the way he has organized that data for the reader. the total volume of information creates a very powerful argument. your mileage may vary!

the one observation I would make is that Senan's book does demand a knowledgeable reader. you need to know the pros and cons of this debate. you need to know what Padfield had to say, and Harrison and Reade. he has not written a general history here, but a very focused argument about this contentious subject.

finally, as someone who is in the book business, I would have to also respectfully disagree with you that the book is overpriced. the cost of self publishing a book on a small scale like this is astonishingly expensive. I looked into getting an American edition printed here, and the cost per book would have been such that I would have had to charge $50 to $60 or more to make it financially viable!

my goal with this post was to try and help people make an informed decision about this book. if I can answer any additional questions, I would be glad to try.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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From those who have actually read the book, I have heard nothing but warm and overwhelming praise - and that comes from people who both know Sen personally and who know him not at all, and from both Lordites and anti-Lordites. At the BTS convention, people stopped...leafed through it...stood fairly transfixed...then snapped it up eagerly.

It's rich in both research and writing, interpretation and analysis. No wonder the editions of Molony's books tend to sell out swiftly - I believe him to be one of the best, if not the best researcher and writer in the field today. I don't always agree with him, (indeed, I have glorious flaming rows with him), but I respect his work utterly.

I don't see myself ever adopting a dogmatic position on either side of this case - I did that to begin with, as an anti-Lordite. As I said above, Molony has convinced me that he has a case. While I won't adopt his position on the Californian, the power of his arguments have brought me around to conceding that he has an argument.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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John,

Why are you so adamant that people shouldn't read this work? Isn't the whole point of research to evaluate as many views as possible and then make one's own determination? And from what I understand from your comments, you haven't even read the book in question...so why the tirade? If Senan's arguments are as bad as you predict they must be, don't you want as many people to read them as possible, so that everyone can experience his supposed incompetence first-hand? Why should we listen to you, if you're not willing to do likewise?

I have to admit...such sharp criticism about a book not even read piques my curiosity. I should probably read it to see what all the hubbub is about.

Parks
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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Go to Peter Padfield's website to see his take on Senan's book:

http://www.guypadfie ld.com/ppadfield/mai n.html

Padfield is a historian of the highest caliber, having written quite a few books on military and nautical history. Mr Padfield was quite impressed with Senan's book and recommends it highly.

On another note, I am a Lordite, but I've found Leslie Reade's "The Ship That Stood Still" to be an essential part of my book collection.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Parks wrote: "I have to admit...such sharp criticism about a book not even read piques my curiosity. I should probably read it to see what all the hubbub is about."

Parks {shrug}: All I can suggest here is that you carefully re-read my carefully written post. If you can locate therein "sharp criticism about a book not even read", I'll be more than happy to eat my hat!

My criticisms were directed towards the article, with the caveat that if the *book's* arguments were constructed in similar manner, why bother? I'm certainly not foolish enough to criticise an author I've never read. But I *have* read Senan's earlier article and posts on this subject, and basically found them insulting to my intelligence -- 2 + 2 just does not equal 5! (But your results may vary.)

Have you re-read the article?

The correct analogy here is far more akin to: If you've previously eaten in a restaturant where you found the food quite objectionable, are you likely to rush right back? (True, the chef or management *might* have changed, but wouldn't you want to know that first?)

Michael (TMIB) and Inger: Feedback much appreciated. I hadn't realized self-publishing was such an expensive proposition, but was merely viewing it from a "consumer" viewpoint. And my problem really wasn't with Senan's writing "style" in that article, but rather with logical constructions and assertions that just didn't gel, in my mind, from square one (as alluded to above).

Lest this somehow be construed as a "partisan" slam -- it's not -- I've also read various pieces of the MMSA's documents on Lord's case. J.D. McNab (obviously in Lord's corner) in 1913 presented some *very* compelling arguments on Lord's behalf, including the absolutely correct observation, as we now know, that Titanic was NOT where everyone said she was (except perhaps for Captain Moore, who also got this right).

So, as many have said, regarding this book, "your results may vary". Coming from the article as my own vantage point, my anticipations are just not innately optimistic. But I could be wrong. And I do thank those who've clarified their comments.

(Michael: OK, 97.xxx does make a lot more sense.) ;^)

Regards,
John
 
Mar 3, 1998
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John,

I did read your post carefully, and I read implied criticism of Senan's book, based on your evaluation of his posts on the list. I'm not asking you to eat your hat, but please don't insult my intelligence by insisting that you weren't technically criticising Senan's book, just his articles. Why else, then, would you post in a thread devoted to Senan's book?

I also don't give a fig if Senan posted rubbish or genius before...what he posted on the list may or may not have anything to do with what he put into his book. I learned this myself during the course of my own book writing. I have written two articles now on Titanic's wireless (one published, the other in final draft for publication), and a book is coming next year. Not only is each successive writing more accurate and finely-tuned than the one that preceded it (learning process), but the information I am ending up with is so far removed from some of my original posts (all free for those who needed to know!) that I'm embarrassed to read what I originally put out on the lists. I'm not saying that's the case with Senan, but the experience has taught me to not assume that what gets posted in a discussion forum by any particular author is indicative of that same author's more serious work.

Therefore, I don't find your restaurant analogy fitting.

I have been highly critical of books before, most recently Robertson's "Futility." My approach differed from yours, though, in that I read the book first, then gave a synopsis, my critical opinion, and concluded with the disclaimer that my opinion was my own and that I encouraged everyone to read the book for themselves to form their own opinion. At no time did I warn people away from the book, or in your words, "And I'd STRONGLY advise anyone who's considering plunking down their hard-earned cash for this book...to seriously consider doing likewise."

I'm not arguing for or against Senan. I'm not telling you that it's bad form to disagree with his theories, methodology, etc. But I would advise to at least read the book first before you go posting in a thread devoted to it. I am reminded of the negative remarks made about Dave Brown's "Last Log of the Titanic" because of the pre-publication hype, and how surprised people were when they found that the content was more substantial than the hype had indicated.

But, argue away. If your method works for you, then so be it. I think you're censoring yourself, but that's just my opinion. In my view, the only way I'll know if Senan has anything worthwhile to say or not is by reading what he has to say. If I waste my money, then I have...but quite often in the past, I have been inspired to come up with my own theories after reading something I disagreed with.

As a sidenote, if you feel so passionately about the subject, why don't you write and publish a book that details your arguments? I'll read it.

Parks
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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Parks said:

"...quite often in the past, I have been inspired to come up with my own theories after reading something I disagreed with."

Exactly. I've found that reading material that I disagree with acts as a catalyst for me to develop and sharpen my own viewpoint.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Parks: Well, the analogy certainly fits, in my mind. But as we've both said, your results may vary. I suppose I just figure that an article published on ET *would* be taken very seriously -- it's a very public venue. Do you mean to imply that we generally present *frivolous* articles here in "Titanica Research"? (Certainly wasn't my impression.)

Moreover, David Brown's contentions -- in both his ET article and the portions of his book that I've read -- were generally well thought out and *logically* constructed, I believe. (I've never observed David to say anything like "The man said, 'Well, it was fairly dark out', therefore it must have been midnight." But I have witnessed repeated examples of this sort of "fuzzy logic" in Senan's article.) So I just don't see your parallel; I'm not talking about reaction to pre-publication hype here, I'm relating my own past experience -- and very recent past experience, if you consider that I went directly back to the article to review just exactly what it was that I found bothersome in the past.

In any event, I'm not saying no one should *read* the book. (Whatever made you think that?) I'm just saying I'm not at all inclined to BUY the book -- big difference! But why all the histrionics?? Am I somehow less entitled to an opinion of the author than others here? I've certainly elaborated more than is even necessary on the factual basis for my opinion. And I stand by it still.

Frankly, I don't recognize your inherent ability to intuit my *implications*, Parks. I wrote what I wrote, and anything you may take *beyond* that is strictly your own inference. Sorry, but I'm just not buying into any "I think you *meant* to say ..." arguments today, thak you kindly. What I said is there in black and white, for all to see.

As for the "Why not write your own book?" quip, is that sort of a variant of "If he's so smart, why ain't he President?" C'mon, Parks. As a noted scholar here once said, "I don't need to be a Master Chef to know bad food when I taste it."

Tracy: With all due respect, I'm really not talking about reading material I simply disagree with. This isn't a *political* stance. I simply expect better from a serious author than what I observed in Senan's article. If his book is different, so be it. (And more power to him!) We can certainly agree to disagree on the article, if you wish, but I just found most of the logical leaps therein fairly preposterous.

"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!" [old Scottish Star Trek proverb]

Just my 2 cents. (In any event, opinions are hardly worth debating.)

Cheers,
John
 

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