Robin Gardiner's History of the White Star Line

Jan 5, 2001
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I must say that it was somewhat better than Gardiner's previous publications - 'The Riddle of the Titanic' (1995) a.k.a. 'The Titanic Conspiracy' (1995) and 'Titanic: The Ship That Nerver Sank' (1998, rep. 2000).

What are your opinions on it?

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Inger Sheil

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Haven't read it yet, Mark - and after having been bitten previously by Gardiner's books (once fooled, shame on you. Twice fooled, shame on me), I was reluctant to go in as a purchaser until I'd seen some feedback from the on-line community as to its merits (or otherwise). I'd been rather afraid he'd give the entire history of the line the same rabid conspiracy treatment we were exposed to in his first two books, but I gather from your comments that this wasn't the case?

~ Inger
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Gardiner's first work didn't inspire confidence in his veracity as a researcher. Especially when he goes to so much trouble to assert a particular premise (The ship-switch theory) only to admit it's wrong at the books end, then continue to assert it in a future work. I don't think I'll be in any rush to get anything from him.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Inger & Mike,

Well, I confess that I bought his new book because it was said not to contain a reference to his previous theories - but then...the part dealing with Titanic's sinking referred the reader to startling 'new evidence' and he explained what really happened. Then to read his last book. LOL!!! The worrying thing is that his last book's being reprinted owing to excess demand - and from some posts on ET even more worryingly some people are beginning to believe it.

Otherwise, the book has good points. J. Bruce Ismay's compassionate side - donating £500 to an orphanage. It dealt quite well and in good detail about IMM's operation, and Lord Pirrie's financial trouble when he couldn't complete the Baltic of 1904.

Another interesting point was how involved Bruce Ismay was in the Line's operations - he inspected one of Republic's Boston departures and personally saw how every rule was disobeyed, the ship unclean, etc. and wrote to the vessel's Captain.

It deals in detail with the Line generally. The booming 1920s. However, there are some exagerations that I feel are made - one new reader might get the impression that the White Star Line was run by a bunch of Chigago gangsters.

There's the catalogue of deaths throughout Olympic's career and little mention of deaths on other vessels - giving the impression that Olympic was a floating tomb.

Referring to Majestic's (2) funnel uptakes and 1924 injury, he writes:
Quote:

'this arrangement...seriously weakened the strutcture of the ship, with the resulot that on one voyage the ship cracked all down one side. Only superb seamanship and excellent trimming of the ship's ballast prevented the vessel from breaking in two.'​

There was a 100-foot crack, but that was mostly in the superstructure (C and D-deck) running across the ship if I recall - would that really be enough to split the ship apart?

Referring to Olympic's new stern frame:
Quote:

'...was coated with metal in a last-ditch attempt to prolong Olympic's life.'​

Surely exagerrated for repairs to a stern frame to prevent further pitting? If he had seen Berengaria's maintainence record - or Leviathan's! Now there were some vessels to critisize.

Gardiner deals in detail with Olympic's ageing (using details which seem to be from Simon Mills' great book) but leaves many good points out and lists all the bad points. He seems to have taken many Olympic accidents from Mills' book and many details of her career (but there are no bibliographical references in this book, unlike the last two). So in other words most of his Olympic details seem just taken from there. Other vessels have not nearly so much detail about them (other than Britannic and Titanic); but Simon Mills hasn't written biographies of other ships and so Gardiner has not as much detail.

Much research did go in, but to me it seems very reliant on books; some details if I recall are from Wilton J. Oldham's 'The Ismay Line' 1969. (I only read it briefly in an archive - copies are hard to come by and expensive.)

All in all - a useful compilation of details. However, many can be found elsewhere and personally I'd rather wait for Paul Louden-Brown's book, as I know a lot of work went into it.

I was in Liverpool earlier this year scanning some documents when a lady approached me, asking if I was writing the book about 'Olympic and Britannic.'

I replied loosely: 'Yes.' I wondered how she knew, but it turned out she had read my letter requesting a visit.

'It was an interesting story,' she said. 'In fact, two or three years ago Paul Louden-Brown was here taking down every single detail he could find of the White Star Line. Do you know him?'

'I've heard of him, yes, but never met.'

'He's got a good reputation. His work is worth reading judging by the research that went into it.'

What other recommendation could you want?
happy.gif


Best regards,

Mark.
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Mark -

Good recommendation there on Paul Louden-Brown - judging from the effort that is going into his next master-tome (an even more complete history WSL and its employees), it's going to be a grand work.

Pity that Gardiner chose to focus on deaths aboard the Olympic - you could pick any liner of the era and find a similar catalogue of death and disaster. The Oceanic II has some spectacular and tragic events connected with those who sailed on her - I remember being particularly touched by a stewardess who had recently left her drunk of a husband, and who confided some of her troubles to two steerage passengers. When she went missing, it was they who raised the alarm. A search found only the stewardess's hat on the upper decks. Then there was the chap who told his cabin mate to go and fetch a doctor - by the time they returned, he'd put a gun in his mouth, pulled the trigger, and was quite dead. A lot of people jumping overboard, of course - in one case there was a bit of a twist. The cry went up 'man overboard', the engines were stopped and the emergency cutters prepared for lowering - only to find that the passenger who had gone over the side was clinging to a porthole!

It fascinates me, though, that Gardiner has gone 'respectable'. I was under the impression he was spending a bit of time in some of the Liverpool and London archives, but from your remarks it sounds as if he's doing what he did in the first books - rehashing the old. I find it quite exasperating when people talk of good research going into his first book - it's largely drawn from published works, like 'Falling Star' etc, with his own spin added. So what was the 'startling new evidence' regarding the Titanic?

~ Inger
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Inger,

<FONT COLOR="ff0000">It fascinates me, though, that Gardiner has gone 'respectable'. I was under the impression he was spending a bit of time in some of the Liverpool and London archives, but from your remarks it sounds as if he's doing what he did in the first books - rehashing the old.

Sorry, I didn't mean that he hadn't done any research - in the introduction he speaks of a lengthy search for the missing Line's archive - and he may have spent much time; but my instict is that the vast majority of his new book is drawn from other authors. Whether it be Simon Mills' Olympic, 'The Ismay Line' or Anderson's 'White Star' (the latter I have only seen bits of while reading in archives). Now I don't mean to speak out against using other books as sources - especially the older variety - and I readily admit to finding other books useful in my own book research, but again, personally I think Gardiner is rather heavily reliant on these other books. To me the proof comes of his Olympic coverage, much of which is roughly from Simon Mills' book and re-written in his own words; if you know what I mean, he only includes the details earlier authors included, without adding other information. Gardiner details Olympic's maiden voyage runs and speeds, including her five reserve boilers remaining unlit, just as Simon Mills does, but there is other information regarding revolutions and other data from Chief Engineer Bell that we do not get a mention of. Authors have to be selective - and there's little wrong with that - but I do wonder if Gardiner had looked at the original source 'The Ismay Line.'


<FONT COLOR="ff0000">I find it quite exasperating when people talk of good research going into his first book - it's largely drawn from published works, like 'Falling Star' etc, with his own spin added.

I have to agree for 'Titanic the ship that never sank,' but the earlier title co-written by Dan van der Vat(?) of 1995 did have some good research sections - such as the Hawke collision and Halifax aspect of the story.

<FONT COLOR="ff0000">So what was the 'startling new evidence' regarding the Titanic?

Well, I don't think there was any really - just that the few tons of well deck ice had come from the un-ventilated, un-heated, un-condensated rigging when the engines had crashed into reverse; and that another ship must have collided with Titanic rather than an iceberg! He said that the engine orders sent down to the main engine room after the collision indicated Smith was trying to get to a pre-arranged rescue position, etc.

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Rolling on the floor laughing!

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I think I'll wait for Paul Louden-Brown's book as well. Now if only THS could get past the troubles with the printers and get the bloody thing on the bookracks! I've had this thing on order for several months now. I've had the re-print of the Shipbuilder Special on order for close to a year now, and that one has been delayed to 2002.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Mike!

On the THS front, they replied to me last night after seven months! That was after I offered them an article; they had been trying to contact me by post and e-mail, but the postal letter had got lost and you'll understand about the e-mail! They were very apologetic. I've another interesting passage from Gardiner's book which I'll quote if I can find it again.

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Kyrila Scully

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Well, Mark, something you said sparked my interest so now I have to throw my two cents' worth into the mix.
Regarding someone doing research, I've been involved with a ministry geared at unmasking religious cults, and having done this for some time I came to understand that anyone can take any thing and twist it around to make it say what they want it to say. We call it a "hidden agenda". It's very popular for religious cult leaders to take scripture out of context to promote some perverted idea they have. This is exactly what Osama Bin Laden is doing with the Koran and teachings of Islam. Now, I'm not comparing Robin Gardiner to Osama Bin Laden, but the principles of truth-twisting are the same irregardless of the subject. And the ones doing it are very sincere in their beliefs, they just have a perverted perspective of the truth, and in order to justify their perverted perspectives, they have to find a way to take what is truth and conform it to their perspective, otherwise they discover themselves to be fools, and that would never do for their already abused and bruised egos. It's a sad thing all around when their perverted perspectives begin having a negative effect on the rest of us. Gardiner's work has merely started a small controversy amidst those in Titanic circles, while Bin Laden...well there's another thread for that discussion. But you see the point. Nevertheless (and this is encouraging for all) the truth shall always prevail, and the rest fall by the wayside.

All the best,
Kyrila
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Kyrila!

Interesting comments. I do actually wonder at times if Gardiner believes (believed?) his theory - or just promoted it to help his book sales. If the latter motive is applicable, it certainly worked; if the former, surely Gardiner has heard of real 'new evidence' from the wreckside proving Titanic's identiy with her 'yard number 401.' If so, he didn't discourage the publisher's reprint.

On the Koran, Prime Minister Blair gave a speech last week or the week before, quoting passages from the book, and entirely disproving the idea that Islam is unjust: but proving that it is a peaceful and tolerant religion. He also co-authored a newspaper article in an Arabic newspaper. (Not bad for a man whose Government had just spent four years testing sheeps for BSE and then discovered they had been testing cows' cells by mistake!) I do wonder really if these Bin Laden followers actually believe that they are doing duty for Islam - to me it seems an excuse for the pointless, censeless slaughter of 6,000 lives. Certainly, there is no place in Islam for such people, nor elsewhere.

That's a very good passage you wrote:
Quote:

'...but the principles of truth-twisting are the same irregardless of the subject. And the ones doing it are very sincere in their beliefs, they just have a perverted perspective of the truth, and in order to justify their perverted perspectives, they have to find a way to take what is truth and conform it to their perspective, otherwise they discover themselves to be fools...'​

Perhaps it could be an epitaph for Gardiner's conspiracy theory.

Mike,

The THS have now confirmed the status of my order - all $300 (&pound;160) worth.

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Kyrila Scully

Member
Apr 15, 2001
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But, Mark, the problem with these cultists is that you can show them hard evidence and they always come back with a rebuttal that, to them, is very logical. By having a uniquely different slant on something, this gives power to the individual promoting it, thus making them feel like they are worthy to be in the world, and have a "purpose" for their otherwise ordinary lives.
Maybe Gardiner is only in it for the money, then shame on him. But if he truly believes what he writes, then a more pathetic creature he becomes in our eyes which provides him with negative attention, which is probably what he's always received and equates that with love, but it is -again I use the term- perverted love, which is why his whole perspective on life and things in life are viewed - or skewed - in a perverted context.
I think the Beatles may have written a song about it. (Had to lighten up, this was getting too heavy.)

All the best,
Kyrila
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Here is my take on Gardiner's latest opus:

Okay, first the good news: this book is not even remotely as bad as the editorial synopsis makes it sound. One on-line editorial states: “the reader will be able to determine that Titanic was not alone in being a victim of the company's cavalier seamanship, that many of the company's archives have mysteriously disappeared, that the company's ownership was labyrinthine (involving, as it did, the noted financier J P Morgan), and much else”.

The implication is that this book is a history of the White Star Line slanted towards conspiracies and cover-ups. Although the author introduces his story with a supposed conspiracy by Cunard to destroy all the White Star papers it could get its hands on, this angle is quickly dropped, and does not really affect the rest of the book at all.

The focus is instead on the many mishaps, major and minor, experienced by White Star ships over the years. As such it is similar to Eaton and Haas’ book Falling Star. Gardiner’s book is extensively researched, the author obviously spent a tremendous amount of time tracking down his information.

I have two problems with the result. Firstly, the author attempts to show that White Star line ships were driven recklessly by listing every conceivable accident he could uncover. This includes everything from major shipping disasters, like the loss of the Atlantic, the Republic and Titanic, to such trivial events as a ship bumping into its dock. He also lists many accidents that were completely beyond the control of the line, like ships being damaged by heavy seas and rogue waves.

More disturbing are some of the conclusions he draws from circumstantial evidence, like his inuendo that White Star wasn’t above delving into the slave trade business during rough financial times. Later in the book he has Captain Smith stating categorically that the Titanic was unsinkable: “Anyhow,” he has Smith saying, “ the Olympic is unsinkable, and Titanic will be the same when she is put in commission. Why,” he continued, “either of these vessels could be cut in halves and each half would remain afloat indefinitely. The non-sinkable vessel has been reached in these two wonderful craft”.

This is an incredible statement, but there is no documentation given for its source whatsoever.

To be fair, these radical statements are not common in the book. Another plus is that, thankfully, the author seems to have given up on his Olympic/Titanic switch theory. This concept from his first two books is almost completely ignored in this one, just a quick aside or two.

A far more serious flaw overall is that there is little to no documentation of his evidence, and there is little explanation for the incidents he relates. One example is his statement that Adriatic’s firemen mutinied when the ship was in Southampton in August of 1910. Well, why did they mutiny? We are never told.

And this is my second problem with the book. It is just a list of incidents, a very extensive list to be sure, but the explanations of these events are never fleshed out. Was White Star unique in its accident record? Hardly. If so, what were the reasons behind this? There are no answers given. The story is never put into historical perspective.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
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Michael Standart wrote:
I think I'll wait for Paul Louden-Brown's book as well. Now if only THS could get past the troubles with the printers and get the bloody thing on the bookracks! I've had this thing on order for several months now. I've had the re-print of the Shipbuilder Special on order for close to a year now, and that one has been delayed to 2002.

Michael, I appreciate the updates on these books. I originally ordered Louden-Brown's book in the spring of 2000.

I posted information about the Shipbuilder reprint on my website waaaaay back in December of 2000! It was actually the first New Book Alert notification I ever uploaded. I was wondering what ever happened to this book.

hopefully both these long overdue works will have been well worth the wait.

best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
p.s. haven't heard anything about another South Carolina get together, but if they plan to have one, I would sure try to attend.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Michael,

<FONT COLOR="ff0000">“Anyhow,”￾ he has Smith saying, “ the Olympic is unsinkable, and Titanic will be the same when she is put in commission. Why,”￾ he continued, “either of these vessels could be cut in halves and each half would remain afloat indefinitely. The non-sinkable vessel has been reached in these two wonderful craft”￾.

George Behe can give you the source. I believe it was from March 1912.

Best regards,

Mark.
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Mark!

I suspect that Gardiner got the Smith quote from my website. Although I don't have the specific source of the quote right here at my fingertips, I can at least assure everyone that the quote is authentic.

All my best,

George
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Mark; Glad you finally have your order coming. About that article you submitted, was it accepted? I would look forward to reading it.

Michael T.It would seem the book industry has a problem getting anything published on time these days. That's why I dislike pre-ordering ahead of time. I've been peeking into the THS website from time to time and from the looks of it, there have been a lot of problems with the outfit THS is dealing with. If I learn anything more, I'll pass it on.

Hope to see you at the next gathering. As you might expect, my pony tail is a little longer.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Mike,

<FONT COLOR="119911">About that article you submitted, was it accepted? I would look forward to reading it.

They didn't want it because it had been on the TRMA webpage and only accept 'exclusives'. Pity because as far as I know quite a bit of the information was unpublished.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Some of those interesting quotes I promised; I wish I had time for more. Colour coded for <FONT COLOR="ff0000">hate it or laugh my head off, <FONT COLOR="119911">okay and not bad.
Quote:

<FONT COLOR="ff0000">'New evidence suggests that the iceberg that caused the sinking of the Titanic could have been a sailing ship, or an auxiliary streamer, or steamer draped in wet canvas...' ROTFOL!​

Quote:

'Thanks to a very efficient effort by suceeding owners of the White Star Company to obliterate all trace of the firm's activities, precious little of the line's archive remains in existence...'​

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hi Mark. What can I say? THS's loss, TRMA's gain. I think I've seen it BTW.

On Gardiner's quotes.

Agreed on number one. That one is so outrageous as to be hysterical.
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On number two, why would there be any records of any sort of questionable activity at all?
eh.gif
This isn't the sort of thing that any parties would want to leave evidence of.
smoke.gif


Cordially,
Michael H. Standart