Robin Gardiner's New Book A Kinder and Gentler Approach

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Graham Smith’s comments has reminded me of a truism. Every book is a blank slate until it is written. He is absolutely right to castigate this community for consigning Gardiner's new book to the junk heap before it has even been published, let alone read.

On the other hand, no author is an island (if I may butcher the old saw), and a writer’s reputation must stand on the merits of what he has published. For the record, Gardiner has written :

The Riddle of the Titanic (co-written by David van der Vat). This book was released in the U.S. market with the title The Titanic Conspiracy. Following was his book Titanic, The Ship that Never Sank. Next, Gardiner wrote The History of the White Star Line. Finally, he co-wrote with Robert McDougall Titanic in Picture Postcards.

As the two latter books are not centrally about his Olympic/Titanic switch theory, it can be stated that this new work will indeed be his third book on this subject.

It is unfortunate that Graham Smith chose to enter this forum with both guns blazing, as that simply begged the response in kind, which quickly degenerated into pure silliness. While this sort of stuff is kinda entertaining in its own way, it doesn’t generate any useful debate, which is the reason we are here on ET, isn’t it? I for one am willing to take up Mr. Smith’s challenge about speaking with a “dram of sense”. Or, at least I am willing to make the attempt.

My thoughts on all of this revolve around two issues, Graham Smith’s comments in his press release, and Robin Gardiner’s history as a writer. Mr. Smith first. Historically, it has been typical for PR men (and women) to state everything they say in BIG BOLD comments. While I am sure this achieves, to some extent, a goal of generating interest, I feel that as often as not it hurts the very cause the promoter is trying to achieve.

Mr. Smith opens his comments with the ill conceived phrase “best-selling author Robin Gardiner (is) the world's leading expert on the Titanic disaster”. This sort of hyperbole is most unfortunate. There are giants in the world of Titanic literature. People like Walter Lord (rest his soul), Don Lynch, Ken Marschall & David Louden-Brown, to name just a few. These men have a long and hugely respected reputation in this field. I don’t know any of these gentlemen personally, but I have never heard any of them claim to be the world’s leading expert on the subject.

About mister Gardiner himself. Smith promises “the world is going to be astonished when Robin backs up his theories with hard evidence and facts which will quite simply rewrite the history of this epic disaster”. Well that is all to the good, and I hope it is indeed so. But here comes that part about the merits of his previous books. Quite simply, Gardiner has up till now, offered little to no real evidence to support his extraordinary claims that there was a massive conspiracy to switch these two ships and sink Olympic on purpose to collect the insurance money.

If this community has tremendous reservations about Mr. Gardiner’s new book, it is not because we are a bunch of overstuffed, self-righteous prigs. It is because we have read his previous works and found them to be full of misinformation, innuendo and lacking any substantive evidence.

We are prejudging his new book on what he has written before. That may not be completely fair, but it is certainly not entirely inappropriate either. Will his new book be an entirely different animal? Can he actually support this conspiracy theory of his with real evidence? If he can, then this community will respond in kind, methinks. But if his new book is just more of what has come before, he will get a chilly reception indeed, and rightly so.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
That was very well put, Michael. Excellent points all.

May I say I look forward to Robin Gardiner's new book as we all do and am confident it will be judged on its own merit, should it have any, which I sincerely hope it does.

As I am not, generally speaking, a Titanic historian, I'm not the best one to address the problems in Gardiner's earlier work, which are (as Michael stated) the reason he has not been held in highest regard by those devoted to this subject.

I can, however, since it hits close to home, speak to the manner in which Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon was treated in the book "The Titanic Conspiracy." While I think the author's handling of the Duff Gordons' involvement in the courtroom aftermath of the disaster is very fair, I took issue to Cosmo Duff Gordon's being dismissed as a "drone" by Gardiner and also to his conclusion - or at least his very strong inference - that Duff Gordon lived a life of no importance, merely because he "did not rate an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography."

That's absurd and doesn't matter at all. Nor does the fact that Duff Gordon's entry in "Who Who" was only brief, which Gardiner points out as though that means he was a "nobody."

This isn't the place for me to go into a defense of Cosmo Duff Gordon, though I could, or to list his civic contributions and other activities, which were many and varied. But I will say this. The man was not a "drone" nor a "boor" (as Daniel Allen Butler refers to him in his book). He was a kind, generous man with a genuine interest in the welfare of others, was a tremendous talent on the sporting field, was greatly admired for his immense warmth and wit by his large circle of friends (who were from all walks of life), and was a devoted husband and family man.

Most importantly, despite the personal devastation he suffered after the Titanic disaster, he demonstrated his innate goodness both publicly and privately his whole life long.

At any rate, I hope that in Gardiner's new book, I will not find he has again fallen prey to such simplistic, prejudiced character studies as he did with Duff Gordon.

Randy Bryan Bigham
>>Can he actually support this conspiracy theory of his with real evidence?<<

I don't think so....and considering that Gardiner and Van Der Tat specifically and expicitely stated towards the end of the first book that the switch never happened, I'm not counting on it. This doesn't mean that he can't come up with something good. Mr. Gardiner's book on Titanic Postcards was actually quite decent and were it not for his re-asserting the ship-switch claim, I might have considered buying it. Since the logistics alone make such a switch absolutely impossible, and the economics of such a scam are such that White Star would be rooking itself out of 2.5 million of it's own money on the shortfall in the insurance coverage, (Never mind the costs of converting two ships to look like each other) I'm hoping that Mr. Gardiner will at some point start to distance himself from this sort of thing. After all, it's not as if he doesn't know the whole thing is bogus. He's known that from the start and said so in writing in his first book.

Inger Sheil

Hallo Paul - I don't know if you're referring to the previous Gardiner thread that is now not visible on the board, but if you are, the posts have not been deleted. As Fiona explained, the tone of the exchange had degenerated to the point that it was necessary to 'rest' the thread. It may be reinstated at a future time when tempers have cooled.

Michael, many thanks for your excellent post. Had the person launching the attack taken the time to familiarise himself with the individuals who post on the board before slinging derogatory terms around such as 'anoraks' and accusations of 'libel', he would realise the substantial base of respected work produced by those who post to this site. Many of the individuals who have a low opinion of Gardiner's work command respect among those knowlegeable in the field - indeed, I can think of no respected, established Titanic researcher who takes Gardiner's work seriously.

You have some very salient points to make about how Gardiner's next book is likely to be received. The arguments against the 'evidence' that he has produced thus far can be found in the archives of this board - unless this new 'evidence' is of a completely different character to what has gone before, I'm exceedingly skeptical of the pre-publicity hyperbole about 'hard evidence' and 'facts'.

Even aside from the merits of the theory itself, from the point of view of one trained in historiography I have found Gardiner exceedingly sloppy in his research. From errors in the first book that should have been picked up by any decent proof reader or editor versed in the subject (e.g. comments about the Allisons and Bride's post-Titanic career) to the last book (the mis-identification of the Titanic's officers in a photo), there is a lack of attention to accuracy that is deeply concerning.

Randy, I've often thought that I would like to debate Gardiner on some of his comments regarding figures such as Harold Lowe - remarks that caused Lowe's son such distress on his deathbed. His attacks on Lowe amount to nothing short of character assassination - fortunately, no sooner was he interviewed on the subject than the nephew of a Titanic survivor came forward to challenge him. To say Ted Dowding lacked any respect whatsoever for Gardiner and his writing would be an understatement.

I would very much like to see the publicity claim that Gardiner is a 'leading expert' substantiated - by whom is he recognised as such? Certainly not by the Titanic research community - not individual author/researchers nor by the Titanic societies. There are writers in this field with an overall knowledge of the subject who have forgotten more about the Titanic than Gardiner ever knew. By what authority and on what basis is this extraordinary claim made?
For the record, Dave Gittins posted the text of page 261 of Riddle of The Titanic verbatim a couple of years ago. I'll repost it here and one may read into it what they will.

"The difficulties thrown up by a conspiratorial theory of the loss of the Titanic, no matter how many mysteries it may seem to explain, are obvious. Who did it, who needed to know, was the recovery of £1 millions by writing off the Olympic on the Titanic's insurance worth the huge risks? - to name but three. In the end it was Harland and Wolff who provided an acid test. The Titanic had the hull number 401 which, they said, would have been stamped on major parts built into the ship. The IMAX film shows a 401 on the port propeller. Yes; but the Titanic was cannibalized for parts when the Olympic was damaged: could this not have been one of them? However that may be, one of the more arcane exhibits at Greenwich - the helm indicator from the stern bridge mentioned above - clearly showed the number 401 stamped deeply into its bronze stand…

A conspiracy theory arises after a disaster because many people find it impossible to to believe such a tragedy could just happen. Indeed for some a conspiracy theory is a psychological necessity, to help them come to terms with a shocking event. There is manifest need for formal recognition of a widespread phenomenon which we could call "specific post-traumatic stress paranoia" whereby people of sound mind, whether victims, their relatives or merely concerned observers, exhibit temporary and/or particularized paranoid symptoms as their way of coping with a disaster."

For all the prancing around, the facts were so glaringly obvious that they just don't go away, and you can bet Mr. Gardiner was well aware of it then and still is now. Unless he can show me the name "Olympic" clearly and unmistakabley etched on the bow and stern, and demonstrate how the thousands of workers who would have to know what was going on to make each ship look like the other, (Without ever figuring out what was going on and spreading the news all over Belfast!!!) could be completely snookered, I see no reason to give any further weight to his arguements.​
Please pardon this brief interruption, but I can't say that I can see any objectionable (or ‘non-PC’ if you’d prefer) posts in this thread. From the general tone of this thread so far, it’s unlikely that any posts of the sort that are unwelcome on this board will be seen as this discussion progresses. Great stuff, eh.

As there seems to be a misunderstanding, I will reiterate that the earlier thread about Gardiner’s forthcoming book is ‘resting’ in the board’s green room. No posts, even those that so blatantly disregarded this board's rules of engagement, have been deleted. If anyone is interested in further information on this, please see the board’s rules or contact me off the board.

Paul - as a side issue, does this mean your email notification isn't working again? You should've received an email of my post explaining that the thread was resting. Please let me know, and if necessary I can check your settings from this side of the board.

More germaine to this discussion: I've got Gardiner's books to date, so this time around I'm saving my money for the Bruce Beveridge/Steve Hall work.

Paul Lee

Apologies to all again. It seems that I am not getting any notifications on some of the threads to which I am subscribed.

I do get worked up about Titanic. Its been a big part of my life now and I do feel very passionately about it. I just get so angry at people who exploit the disaster merely for avarice, and then try to justify their shoddy research.

Christine Geyer

I don't think I'll blindly order the new Gardiner book because it would be too bad about my money. But should it make its way to the German bookstores or should I see it while I'm in England I'll at last have a look into it, just out of curiosity about the "hard evidence". This is such a daring announcement. Though I don't believe in the switch theory for a moment this will be interesting. Looking forward to the sensations.
Paul, I am an avid collector of Titanic books,as well as antiquarian books. Running across many
books in my search for new and scarce Titanic
titles, I come across many web sites, that list
under the Titanic heading, but that have nothing
whatsoever to do with Titanic, except maybe
in the title. My point being , is that Titanic
"sells". I have not read Gardiner's books yet,
but I do have them, so therefore, I cannot
post an opinion on them. However, many authors,
and I am not saying Gardiner does this, put
Titanic in the title, because they know, the book
will more than likely generate big sales.

As far as the previous thread "resting". I , for
one am glad. I have come to respect many on this
board for their knowledge in reference to the
Titanic and what they have to offer. Even the
diverse opinions have something to offer. They
make you think...
And the one thing I found, I like about this
diverse group, is the fact, that it is a
"community", with a common bond. The love for
Titanic, as well as for books.

I haven't been able to offer much, as far as
the discussions , in reference to Titanic and
the facts, but I do enjoy this web site and
what I can glean from it.

If anyone, could offer some facts to back up
why this book of Gardiner's may have some
new valuable input , I would be happy to hear
them. Sincerely, Patty

Paul Lee

Hi Patty,
I agree absolutely about the greedy people who see the Titanic as a massive cash-cow, and whose very name makes people eyes light up with dollar bills.

Best wishes


Paul, just so I am not misconstrued here, I want
to reiterate a point. There are SOME unscrupulous writers who do this, in order to
generate sales. But, by far, most writers, are
passionate about their work and their intent is
to be accurate about what they are writing about.
They have a desire to take their passion and
knowledge and pass that onto others, who are
equally interested in the subject. And from
my understanding, writing is not one of your
highest paying jobs. Most authors write, because
of the love of it, not the pay that comes with it. The storytelling is what is important to them,
the preservation of facts, history, etc.
But their are others, who are different. I
cannot at this time, say Gardiner , is one of
these. I have read none of his books, and therefore cannot put that label on him. I leave
that to the people who have actually read his

But I do believe that if an author is true to
himself/herself and their work...then their
work will be valued for the input they have given
to us all.

And if an author , does write simply to generate
funds, with no proof to back up, what is written,
it will be noted and that author will lose
respectability from his public. Sincerely, Patty
"But their are others......" In my above post
I erroneously put "their" in lieu of "there".
Maybe that is why I am not a writer ? (LOL)

Paul Lee

I got the following from Mr.Gardiner's agent, Graham Smith, today:

"You have a very unpleasant, and totally untrue, comment on your web site
about myself and Robin Gardiner in connection with Dan Van der Vatt. It is
you sir who is guilty of spouting "bilge", and if you have any manners you
would remove it.

You will notice that Robin and I now take little interest in the attacks
from you and those of your biased ilk, but I do object to unjustified
personal attacks."

I note that Gardiner never got back in touch about his proof of the switch theory. I emailed Smith back:

"One word: Where?" as I couldn't find anything defamatory on my website.

He wrote back "Two words. Big head"

So I retorted "Two words: Intellectual fraud"
>>You will notice that Robin and I now take little interest in the attacks
from you and those of your biased ilk, but I do object to unjustified
personal attacks." <<

For somebody who claims to be disinterested in attacks, he sure seems to be interested in attacks.
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