Ghosts of Titanic by Charles Pellegrano


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May 8, 2001
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I fully agree. Whenever I have questions, I drag out both the Don Lynch and Haas books. I have Ghosts of the Titanic and was o.k. reading, but not as meaty as the 2 mentioned. Be warned, The Haas book is QUITE expensive but so worth it. Keep an eye on E-bay or a discount store. I believe mine was $60.00. One thing that I noticed is that after "Titanic" came out, the books really became available, and now they are in discount bins. ( I blurted out exasperated in the book store when I saw hard bound Illustrated History's for $4.99, so I bought 2 more.) :) If you are able to afford it, I believe every book has something to offer, but these 2 really are packed with the info! Good luck! Colleen
 

Matthew Lips

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Hi all.
To be honest, I thought "Ghosts" was pretty good. Certainly, I much preferred to Pellegrino's earlier volume on the subject, "Her Name, Titanic."

I guess the word "Ghosts" is meant to suggest "secrets", nothing more spectral than that! Pellegrino brings to the subject a degree of scientific analysis that I have not come across anywhere else.

His step-by-step explanation of exactly how the Titanic broke up and sank may be open to debate (will we EVER really know for sure?), but to my hopelessly unscientific mind it looks well thought out and explained in terms that I can understand.

That is just example. Another is the mathematical equation of just how much pressure would be exerted on a steel object weighing 46 000-plus tons colliding with solid ice at around 23 knots. It makes one hell of a counterpoint to Gardiner's somewhat lonely assertion that mere ice could not have inflicted the type of damage which Titanic suffered.

I would recommend "Ghosts", for all that Pellegrino is not always the most popular of Titanic authors, but if you happen to be a Lordite - watch out. You'll hate this book then!!

Cheers,
Matthew L.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Actually, IMO, just about anything would be better then Gardiner's and Van Der Tat's nonsense.

Ship switches and insurance scams on an underinsured ship...give me a break!

Having said that, one is still wise to take the book with a boulder or two of salt as the man is alleged to resort to outright fabrication with some of his acounts. I just bought a copy myself, and while it's not going to be a priority project, I intend to go over it, compare it with other sources of known reliabilty and judge for myself.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
B

Brandon Ralph Whited

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Hello,

I just returned "Ghosts of the Titanic" to my local library. I don't care what anyone says, I absolutely loved the book!
proud.gif


I personally recommend it if you have previous knowledge of the Titanic, her passengers and crew, and the events of that night. If not, then go with the Eaton/Haas and Lynch/Marschall books.

Just my not-always-necessary 2 cents.

Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 
Oct 13, 2000
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I finally broke down and read 'Ghosts' myself this past week while I was travelling. had been avoiding it like the plague because of all the bad reviews. the version I read was the paperback edition, which, I understand has some corrections from the hardcover first edition.

I did not find the book to be anywhere nearly as bad as has been suggested. Pellegrino's theories; the downblast, the popping out Grand Staircase, etc. are certainly debatable, but he presents his opinions in a thoughtful and reasonable manner.

not that there aren't what I call 'Pellegrinos' sprinkled thru-out the text. my favorite is his having first class passenger Helen Churchill Candee doing a Jack & Rose on Titanic's bow!

thankfully! though, his imaginary conversations of what people on the ship said has been toned down considerably. all in all, I think 'Ghosts' is a much better book than his first work 'Her Name Titanic'. this new book is much more grounded in theory. I don't agree with all his theories, but they are well represented.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Mar 20, 2000
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All,

After hearing so much about this book I bought a hardcover used copy yesterday. I will admit to not yet reading it through but I have to say that, after looking up references to the one area I can reasonably be considered an expert on (the Duff Gordons), I will not be reading it through any time soon.(Just in turning a few pages I noticed the error in spelling of Lord Mersey's name as "Mercey" and Mrs. Cardeza being called "Lady Cardeza.")

These oversights are minor compared to the mistakes - and in some cases, outright fabrications - which I found in examining the passages dealing with the Duff Gordons and the situation of Boat 1. Now, though I'm glad the author shares my sympathy to some extent with the notorious couple this is really irrelevant as he is so wrong on so many aspects, both small and large, that I couldn't care less what he thinks. I realize the Duff Gordon "episode" is but one part of the Titanic story but I feel that if Pellegrino has made such errors in reporting it I wonder what other mistakes of greater consequence has he made elsewhere? I leave that to others to sort out.

On the Duff Gordons, though, may I point out first of all Pellegrino's mistake in constantly calling them the "Gordons," a minor error in conversation perhaps but on the printed page it's quite bad. Here, in order of their appearance in Pellegrino's account, are the errors re: Sir Cosmo and Lucy Lady Duff Gordon:

1) P. 53n - Re: the silver jewellery box with the inscription of the initials "DG," supposedly recovered from the bag containing various passengers valuables. Pellegrino says that "with little doubt" this item belonged to the Duff Gordons. However there is no proof it was pilfered, as he suggests, from the couple's staterooms; moreover there is no real evidence to suggest it belonged to the couple in the first place. It might easily have belonged to "Dorothy Gibson" for instance.

2)P 145 - He says the "Gordons" (sic)at the Inquiry in London "completely retracted their story of panic and gunfire" aboard Titanic. The couple never stated officially anything about panic and gunfire so there could be no "retraction." The story of panic and gunfire was taken from an article printed in the NY American under Lucy Duff Gordon's name but without her approval or knowledge which she explained at length in her testimony.

3) P 145 - Pellegrino states "they (the D-Gs)...insisted on having no recollection of seeing William Murdoch near C (collapsible boat C)." The truth is they were never questioned re: Murdoch and may not even have known him by name anyhow. They were never questioned about Boat C either. Anyone can read the British Inquiry transcripts and see for themselves that no such question was put to them nor did they make any statement regarding Murdoch (by name) or Boat C.

4)P 145 - Lady Duff Gordon's article was in the April 19 issue of the NY American, NOT the April 18 issue of the NY Sunday American. Easy mistakes perhaps but still sloppy research.

5) P 146n - Pellegrino does not make himself clear when he quotes Celiney Yasbeck's account. He indicates she was in boat 1 with the Duff Gordons, which she of course wasn't. Perhaps he means she was in a boat nearby. Still the reader is left to wonder. Again, sloppy.

6)P 146n - Lucy Duff Gordon's autobiography was published in 1932, not 1931.

7)P 179 - Pellegrino claims "Lady Gordon" (sic)heard from her lifeboat Peter Daly screaming "My God, My God" as the ship was beginning its final plunge. This is completely false. The "My God, My God" quote is taken from the bogus article in the American. Even in it, however, it is claimed this was heard well AFTER the ship sank. If she had heard a voice crying these words, Lucy Duff Gordon would not have known it was Peter Daly whom she certainly never met. It is a ludicrous story and shows how this author mixes and mingles bits and pieces into accounts he passes off as factual but in reality are totally contrived.

8)The conversation Pellegrino relates in which George Tulloch claims Lucy Duff Gordon saw one of those marconigrams mentioning icebergs which Ismay was showing people, must either be an invention of his own or based on some false account. I have never heard it claimed in any reputable source that Lucy Duff Gordon was ever approached at any time by Ismay. (Cosmo Duff Gordon, when asked in court whether they had met, said "not at any time in my life.") So Pellegrino is either making this bit up or he has been misled.

9)P 258 - As a costume historian this one really makes me laugh. Pellegrino absurdly claims that Lucy Duff Gordon was inspired to invent pockets in women's clothes after reading Helen Candee's account of Kent and the locket. Firstly I know of no evidence that Lucy ever read Helen Candee's story or even knew who she was. As to Lucy's making pockets, she certainly had more illustrious sources of inspiration in her designing. And for the record, Lucy and other women's wear designers had already discovered pockets by 1912!

10)P 142 - The quote from Mabel Francatelli (or "Franks") from a letter - still in private hands - which refers to Murdoch's suicide is taken completely out of context and shows that Pellegrino has manipulated the information in a most unethical way to support his view. Pellegrino's version of the quote - "He...poor dear brave fellow, shot himself. We saw the whole thing" - should actually read "The dear officer gave orders to row away from the sinking boat at least 200 hunderd yards, he afterwards poor dear brave fellow, shot himself. We saw the whole thing, and watched that tremendous boat quickly sink, there was then terrible terrible explosions and all darkness..." This full quote I have been given permission to use from a Francatelli relative who recently discovered a copy of the original which was sold through Sotheby's. To me it shows Franks was NOT referring to witnessing the shooting but rather to watching the sinking itself.

Well, I can only hope that other aspects of Pellegrino's "Ghosts of the Titanic" are more in line with the truth. I am not feeling much impressed at the moment and anyone who wants my copy (though annotated now in deepest red) may have it for the asking!

Randy

PS) I confess the front-cover art work for the dust jacket is nice.
 

Tracy Smith

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Thanks Randy, for your point by point refutation of his errors regarding the Duff Gordons.

He does no better with Captain Lord, many times resorting to character assassination and hearsay. Though I will not go through a thorough point by point analysis at this time, I will show one thing that jumped right off the page at me because it was so ridiculous.

On pages 223-224, he makes the preposterous insinuation that Lord purposely ignored "people" who had somehow made their way to an ice floe about a mile from the wreckage site and hauled themselves upon it. The author implies that Lord dismissed these "people" as being seals, simply because he couldn't be bothered to save them.

Pellegrino does not explain how someone could possibly swim that far in freezing water and then still have the agility to haul themselves onto a slippery ice floe, let alone be up and moving around after that many hours of exposure. Nor does he seem to have any problem that Captain Rostron seemingly passed by these same "people" as well.....

Perhaps at another time, when I have the time to read the book again, I will go through more points as you have brilliantly done in regard to the Duff Gordons.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Tracy,

I have a few questions related to this: what is Pellegrano's source regarding the purported bodies on the ice flow? Does he mention anything about other ships having sighted bodies on an ice flow, and having directed Mackay-Bennett to the site? Why did Californian leave the wrecksite when P.A.S. Franklin, of IMM, Leyland Line's owner, had sent it a marconigram directing the ship to stay in the area, and continue searching? Do you know if Californian communicated by wireless with the Minnewaska? Franconia? With anyone in Halifax? Thanks for any thoughts you can offer on these.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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All,

To Tracy - I will look forward to hearing a blow-by-blow from you on Captain Lord's treatment by Pellegrino. By chance I also saw the part about the "people" on ice-flows which I thought was straining credibility in the extreme. I never bought that crazy tale but he's twisted it even more. I feel Charles Pellegrino is verging on the inept if not the criminal in his research.

By the way, I left out a very important point, actually Pellegrino's most glaring error of all on the Duff Gordons, and the most mysterious:

On p 195 in "Ghosts of the Titanic," Pellegrino cites a questionable quote, and very probably a totally concocted one, in his assertion that crewmember Samuel Collins, one of those who escaped with the Duff Gordons, wrote a letter to Mrs. Frank Goldsmith implying that his life would be at stake if he told what he knew about the incidents surounding boat 1.

I first was told of this - and in fact supplied with a quote from this supposed letter - by a well known author, who must remain nameless, in a letter dated August 16, 1990. The full quote, reputedly from Sam Collins' letter of May 1912, is thus:

"...I cannot tell you more news this time but will let you know all when I arrive in New York and then shall I open the eyes of scores of people which I dare not do here for my own sake."

I was shocked by the inference of this but was fully prepared to use it in my manuscript, then in its early stages, as I trusted my source implicitly and couldn't imagine one of higher standing on the subject of Titanic. When shortly thereafter the Titanic Historical Society was preparing to publish a 2 part excerpt from the Titanic chapter in my book on "Lucile", I sent them the quote for inclusion in the piece. I was contacted however by a high officer of THS and told that the quote was fictitious and to prove it I was later supplied with a copy of the full and only letter (apparently)written by Collins to Goldsmith in May 1912. I don't have that at hand just now but I understand it was afterwards used in the biography of Frank Goldsmith, Jr., which THS released. You can see for yourself there that the above quote hinting to behind-the-scenes scandal in the Duff Gordon affair is not included in the letter.

The original of this letter is not known to exist, if in fact it ever existed. Should it turn up and is proved to be authentic, I will naturally quote it in my book. Until then, however famous the source,it cannot be considered to be anything but fraudulent. (My personal belief is that someone, very possibly Pellegrino, fabricated the letter and presented it to the author who then innocently shared it with me.)

Randy
 

Mike Herbold

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I have to agree with Randy and Tracy. Pellegrino is almost a convincing writer but his attention to facts is lacking. On page 11, he refers to "Mrs. Ada Clark, who was refusing to leave her husband...."

Virginia McDowell CLARK, the Mrs. Walter Miller CLARK, is the first class passenger from Los Angeles he is referring to. Pellegrino got the spelling of the last name correct, but used the wrong first name.

Ada Marie CLARKE, with an "E" at the end, Mrs. Charles Valentine CLARKE, was a second class passenger headed for Northern California.

It seems like a harmless little mistake until pages 129-130, when he repeats the incorrect name as "Ada Marie CLARK", when referring to the meeting between Virginia CLARK and her husband, Walter Miller CLARK, who was playing cards late into the night of April 14th.
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Jan wrote:

>I have a few questions related to this: what is >Pellegrano's source regarding the purported >bodies on the ice flow?

Hi, Jan!

If I recall correctly, it was the Californian's Third Officer Groves who later told of having pointed out to Captain Lord the moving figures on the iceberg; according to Groves, Lord opined that the figures were seals, and the matter was dropped.

>Does he mention anything about other ships having >sighted bodies on an ice flow, and having
>directed Mackay-Bennett to the site?

I don't know if Pellegrino mentions it, but a wireless message from an unnamed vessel (which was intercepted by the Prinzess Irene) told of having seen the bodies of a dozen men huddled together on the base of an iceberg. The bodies were all clad in lifebelts, but no attempt was made to take them off the berg.

All my best,

George
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Since I nowhave copies of both of his books, I'll consider that I have been appropriately warned as to watch out for. When I get around to reading them, my transcripts and survivor accounts are really going to be earning their keep!
wink.gif


Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Oct 13, 2000
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Randy,
thanks for the checklist of faults on the Duff Gordons in this book. Pellegrino has always suffered from an excess of enthusiasm. I'm surprised he doesn't have a competent research assistant double-check his facts for him. as far as his purposefully fabricating a letter though, I may be naive, but I find that difficult to swallow.

Tracy,
I knew Pellegrino's assault on Captain Lord was going to rile feathers. I consider myself to have an open mind on the Californian issue, yet even I found his attack on Lord unusually harsh.

I wonder why Pellegrino is such a media success? whether we approve of it or not, the one thing he does achieve is to get a tremendous number of people reading about Titanic. Someone like David Brown, who has written an infinitely better book, does not have his book on shelves in every corner drugstore, or at airport bookstores (where I picked up 'Ghosts'). what is Pellegrino bringing to the market that Brown, and other 'serious' researchers are not???

curiously, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Michael -- Thanks for the vote of confidence in my work. The publishing world is sort of big business gone through a looking glass. There is no explaining the way it works. You have touched on something that rankles me as a writer. I could vent my frustration, but it would do little good. All I can do is thank the thousands of people who have purchased my book...and go on to another project.

-- David G. Brown
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Bill,

Thanks for the link to your great site but the Laura Mabel Francatelli letter featured there is actually a very small excerpt from the original addressed to Marion Taylor. The original, on Ritz Carlton stationary and dated 28 April 1912, is about 16 pages long and is in private hands. The owner has allowed only certain passages to be quoted over the years, such as yours which appears to be pretty close to the same excerpt used in the Michael Davie book as well as The "It" Girls (both published at the time of the Sotheby's auction of the original letter in 1986).

However the Francatelli family, whom both myself and Phillip Gowan have been in touch with since early this year, has recently located a complete mimeographic-style copy made well before the Sotheby's sale. This makes it legally possible for the letter to be published in full for the first time, which will probably be pretty soon.

Moreover, I was careful to word the excerpt I used in my earlier post exactly as it appears in my full copy of the original document, including the idiosyncracies of punctuation; I must, by the way, thank George Behe for sharing this copy which he recently came into. (I am still waiting to see the mimeographic copy owned by the Francatellis.)


Michael,

I find it hard to imagine as well that a researcher would fabricate a document but I have been assured that this is probably the case with the Sam Collins letter. Whether or not this happened and that Pellegrino is the one who did it may never be proven but what is certain is that the collection of letters of Frank Goldsmith's mother apparently NEVER included the one he cites. All I know is that the powers-that-be in THS refused to include it in my articles as it was declared fraudulent, even after receiving a copy of the letter from the author who passed on the excerpt to me. I am only going by what people far higher on the rung of Titanica than myself believe has happened.

Randy
 
Oct 13, 2000
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David,
I share your frustration. your explanations of the hoops and hurdles you went through to get your book published were chilling. whenever I talk to someone who is curious about Titanic, I always bring up your book as one of the very best in the area of modern research.

Randy,
I didn't mean to suggest that the letter is not fraudulent. goodness knows, there are enough scam artists out there in all walks of life. like you, I will defer to those much more knowledgeable than myself on this issue.

I prefer to believe, until proven otherwise, that authors are genuine in their efforts. I have never met Pellegrino, he could be crooked as they come, or honest as the day is long. my take on the man, from reading his books, is that his enthusiasm outweighs his good sense. he is strong in getting very fired up about what he is writing, but doesn't have the patience to go back, double-check his facts and document all his assertions. it makes for a lot of unnecessary mistakes. your corrections about the Duff Gordons really brought this point home to me.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Mike Poirier

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RE: pellegrino. I don't find it hard at all that he could fabricate a letter. If you read his book, there is enough fabricated dialogue to choke a horse. And it is very evident that he twists facts to support his own theories.
Staircases, looting, etc.... And other than the Lord/Pellegrino files, he does not provide a definite source for where he gets his information.
Also I find it a bit dubious for him to lay claim to Walter Lord's files. Walter Lord really isn't in the condition to protest and hasn't been for some time. Latching onto a historian's files is not what I call research.
And as for his book selling many copies. His first book has been a cheap $5.99 paper back for quite a few years. Not a stretch to believe Titanic enthusiasts would gravitate towards a handy $5.99 paper back versus a $26.99 hardcover.
 
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