J. Kent Layton's Lusitania: An Illustrated Biography of the Ship of Splendor


J Kent Layton

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Mar 27, 2004
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I just thought I would let everyone know that my new book is just about ready for release. Its title is "Lusitania: An Illustrated Biography of the Ship of Splendor." It will be available in softcover under ISBN 978-1-4303-1962-7. It will also be available in limited release in hardcover format, as well.

There will be something in this book for everyone with an interest in the LUSITANIA.

Further details can be found on this page of my site:
http://www.atlanticliners.com/lusitania_an_illustrated_biography.htm
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 12, 1999
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Hello Kent-
Congratulations on the upcoming release. Having seen the well written manuscript and some of the excellent photos, I am pleased that the ocean liner world will FINALLY be treated to the full story of the ship from conception to untimely end and all the wonderful adventures in between.
Mike
 

J Kent Layton

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Mar 27, 2004
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Mike Poirier:

Thanks for the kind words. This book is really ground-breaking in the way it focuses on the ship's career. 7 1/2 years of crossing the ocean certainly allowed for a lot of stories, and they have heretofore been almost entirely ignored. Hopefully everyone will thoroughly enjoy the book, its content, and the photographs and illustrations.

Mike Standart:

The softcover will be available at Amazon, but it takes some time after I approve the book for distribution for it to filter through to retailers, so if you want it quick, you'll have to get it directly through the publisher or through my site. The hardcover will only be available through my site and the publisher.

Once the book is approved, I'll post links here so that everyone will know how to get it.

Take care, gentlemen. I hope everyone enjoys the book when it becomes available.
 

J Kent Layton

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Mar 27, 2004
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All right, here's the latest update. The softcover has been released as of this afternoon, 1st March, 2007. At this point, orders may only be placed directly through the publisher at this URL: http://www.lulu.com/content/644381.

In about two weeks, the book will also be available (in this format) through my site directly.

It will take some time for the information and availability to filter down through Amazon and other retailers… from what I have been told, up to seven weeks, and perhaps even more. But you can get it now directly from the publisher's site.

For those of you waiting for the hardcover version, release of the book in this format is still pending, and may take a matter of weeks. Keep in mind, too, that the hardcover will only be available through the publisher direct, and from me (through my site) shortly thereafter. It will not be available through retailers. I will post again on this thread once the hardcover becomes available.

Full details on the publication can still be found here, as well as links for purchase: http://www.atlanticliners.com/lusitania_an_illustrated_biography.htm

I have laid out a preview of the book on the publisher's site: http://www.lulu.com/browse/preview.php?fCID=644381

Again, my heartiest thanks go out to everyone who has assisted me in the project. It took over a year to create, but it's been well worth the effort. Enjoy the book!
 

Mike Poirier

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That's all very good news Kent. Anyone who is interested in an overall history of that Lusitania's career (one that spans 311 pages) will be very pleased. I like the fact that it functions as an oral history of those who sailed aboard her during her career.

Mike
 

J Kent Layton

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Martin,

"...will there be any use of colour illustration of photography?" -- No, not for this edition. Since most of the photographs and illustrations that I was using were black and white or otherwise monochromatic, the decision was made not to proceed with color.

Jason,

You're quite welcome.

Mike,

Yeah, that's the most unique bit about this book... the information. A lot of books have pictures, a few have pictures in color. But information of the kind included in this book is a rarity.

Very few authors have ever gone down the career road very far, and the overall impression that many have of the ship's life is something like, "She entered service in 1907... then the war started." I was pleasantly surprised at the interesting information that I found about the ship's career while I was doing my research.

Hopefully everyone will enjoy the book's text content as well as its unprecedented number of illustrations and photographs.

Take care, everyone!
 
May 3, 2002
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Jason & Mike
Were the Pritchard Letters used as a source of info?

I seem to remember reading about them awhile back. That they were a traesure rtrove of info abou what happened that afternoon.
I also remember reading somewhere about the Lusitania going to the aid of a sailing vesssel of the US coast during the Captaincy of David Dow.

cheers

Martin
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi Martin-
I believe little, if nothing at all from those letters were used. The problem is, as great as they are, it is an easy way to fill a book. To me, that really doesn't constitute as research. They can be used to enhance research, but I think the temptation for some authors and writers would be to use them as their primary source. Kind of like how Diana Preston used the National Archives and the Hoehling letters to fill her book. Basically it was like piecing together the Hickey/Smith and Hoehling book and calling it a new book; when in fact, it wasn't.

You'll see some new accounts and new voices that deserved to be heard. There are a few familiar stories, but mostly new accounts by survivors. But the final voyage chapter is really only a small part of the book. The stories you mainly read are from people who sailed on the ship during it's wonderful career.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Kent- Congratulations on an excellent job! I am sure that this book will meet with the success it deserves, and I can honestly say that this is the first Lusitania book in more than a generation to RAISE the bar!

Martin- The Pritchard letters are readable, and full of great information. BUT, one has to read all of them to achieve maximum effect and only, perhaps, 15 of them contain the sort of information that can stand on its own removed from the context of the 'storyline' of the search for Richard Pritchard. Most of the small, previously unpublished details pertain to the final days of Richard, and not the ship per se. So, they are fascinating to read but hard to distill into something that captures just how interesting they are. Also, on a practical note, the letters are held by the Imperial War Museum, but the CONTENTS of the letters belong to the descendants of the original authors. So, if one wants to quote, for instance, from Mrs Pye's letter, the museum requests that one obtain permission to publish from Mrs. Pye's descendants. In other words..."good luck!"
 

J Kent Layton

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Martin,

Mike and Jim are entirely correct. Indeed, most of this book's focus is on the period before the sinking, tapping previously unexplored details about the ship and her career.

In the areas where the war months or the sinking are discussed, the focus is on clearing the air on some important matters, as well as to bring in some fresh accounts and perspective. The book filled up very quickly...

All of this makes for something that is entirely unique, and which will hopefully be both informative and enjoyable to readers. I hope this helps to answer your question, Martin. Take care!
 

J Kent Layton

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Mar 27, 2004
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New York, United States
Jim,

I forgot to mention before, thank you for your kind words on the book. It is no small commendation, especially coming from one so familiar with the LUSITANIA. After so much work went into the project, the high praise is very much appreciated. Take care!
 
May 3, 2002
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" but the CONTENTS of the letters belong to the descendants of the original authors. So, if one wants to quote, for instance, from Mrs Pye's letter, the museum requests that one obtain permission to publish from Mrs. Pye's descendants. In other words..."good luck!" "
-J, Kalafus


Michael,Jim Jason,
Thanks to you all for your answers.
Jim,
I was always taught in undergrad history the importance of footnoting and referencing. The policy you describe seems most unhelpful to anyone wanting to write history or biography.

Mike,
you write about the danger of using letters as a primary source. something Prseton is cited as doing.

I found Preston very readable and graphic
like she was writing a narrative. I could easily see a film of it in my head.
It seems that only near the end she adopts an investigative approach with the War diaries of the U20 and the source of the secondary explosion.

I think the problem of source material is that it needs to be questioned and analsyed. A good example is the oft repeated idea that came from the first Officer that the ship reared up like the Titanic before sinking and the bow hitting the bottom at the same time.

cheers

Martin
 

Mike Poirier

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Hi Martin-

Well, I guess with fair use, you are allowed to use up to so many words of the letters and of course, no danger in paraphrasing, I suppose. But as you said- with footnotes.

You are quite correct. Preston's book is readable. But if you look at her source material- it came from two readable books that were already out there. 'Twice Told Tales Syndrome'.
She could have used that material to supplement her work; but she took the lazy way and used it as her work. So it was a narrative that flowed easily, but it she used easy to get material, nothing really original. To me, why would one want a book if you read those stories elsewhere? I think where she hit her stride was the investigative work with the U-20 and the explosions. I believe there is a note about the submarine in this current book that has yet to be discussed in any other book that I find most interesting and I hope others that buy the book will too.
 
May 3, 2002
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it was the small things that were interesting like the bridge watch siting a conical bouy adrift and mistaking it for a submarine.

My problem is physical distance. I have only rcently bought and read Bailey and Ryan yet the Simpson book for many years from my childhood was the only thing available.

The fact I am here, virtually, is only possilble due to the internet revolution. Jason' new book could well have been unknown here if not for the internet never mind being able to communicate with you so easily.some of my best books now come via the internet

cheers

Martin
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I forgot to mention before, thank you for your kind words on the book...etc...

Kent, the pleasure is all mine! I can't express how pleased I was when I first read your manuscript and DIDN'T find myself moving my lips "in time" to overused quotes, or skipping ahead over too-familiar passages. We once, semi-jokingly, used the phrase "100% Frohman Free, Substantially Less Vanderbilt Content Than Our Nearest Competitor" to describe our own ongoing project, and our aversion to endlessly recyled material, and it was GREAT so meet someone who took the same approach but applied it to the ship's entire career.

Martin:

>The policy you describe seems most unhelpful to anyone wanting to write history or biography.

Well, you can USE the letters as reference material, paraphrase to your heart's content, footnote, and still come up with a fine, and historically accurate work. You could easily say "The last person known to have seen Richard Prichard alive was Alice Middleton. He encountered her on the Promenade Deck, calmed her from her state of near-hysteria, and helped her up a staircase to A Deck in the final minutes before the ship sank" and capture, entirely, what Miss Middleton wrote to Mrs Prichard without violating the usage agreement that the Imperial War Museum sends in response to enquiries.

I'm not well versed at all regarding this aspect of English Law, however, back in the 1980s when Mick Jagger's ex-girlfriend Chrissie Shrimpton attempted to sell his ca. 1964 letters to her, he got an injunction and blocked the sale ~ and, at that time, there was ENDLESS column space devoted to explaining how one may, or may not, legally use personal letters in the U.K. A Google search using their names could well turn up a simplified explanation of this particular restriction of use.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi Martin,

Jason' new book could well have been unknown here if not for the internet never mind being able to communicate with you so easily.

I think you may be referring to Kent's book. I'm not writing a book at the moment.

Best regards,

Jason
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