THE LUSITANIA The Life Loss and Legacy of an Ocean Legend by Daniel Allen Butler


Jan 5, 2001
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I am looking for a second book about the Lusitania after reading Dr. Ballard's 'Exploring the Lusitania' and I was wondering if anybody had read this book and could give me an opinion of it.

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Yes, I have, and yes, I can - Read Hoehling's Last Voyage of The Lusitania first. After that, read Seven Days To Disaster, by Hickey and Smith.
If you can, track down Eric Sauder and Ken Marschall's Lusitania photo history. Then The Shipbuilder's Lusitania issue (reprint). Try to avoid Colin Simpson's Lusitania book. Then read the latest, by Mr. Butler.....the literature on The Lusitania is a minefield (bad analogy, actually) filled with misinformation and just-plain fabrication, but the ones above are better than average, and if you can absorb all of them you'll have a good basis by which to judge the others.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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James,

Thanks for the recommendations. I did try to get hold of Eric Sauder's book but it is unavailable despite the numerous times I have tried.

I will try some of those you recommended.

I asked particularly about Butler's book because after I read his account of the Titanic I found it very comprehensive, but with numerous mistakes. As I am learning about the Lusitania, I did not want to learn erroneous information.

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Which is why you are going to have to read all of those books, because (with the exception of Eric Sauder's work) they are all rife with minor and major errors, and you can use one book to proofread the next and so forth.....for instance, one of the books describes a passenger wearing her bathing suit to the Lusitania's deck pool (there wasn't one, and had there been, the first week of May would NOT have been the optimum time to use it) another describes a passenger as being an Episcopal Minister from Richmond Indiana who was, in fact, a Baptist from Ottawa....and so on. My "concern" with Butler's book was that it seemed to be a thinly veiled re-write of the works of Hoehling and Hickey/Smith, with "new and startling facts" being few and far in between.

Mr. Butler wrote a Lusitania novel a while back (Ca 1990) which is actually a better read (if you skip the 400 pages of expository material and get to the good stuff) than the current book. If you MUST choose, choose to read the final chapters of the novel.

Again- if you find the Colin Simpson book, stay well clear.

If you get the chance, try to find the Shipbuilder reprint issue- certain aspects of the text are very interesting, and with Mr. Sauder and Mr. Marschall's book hard to obtain it contains the best collection of interior photographs out there......the editors went "one better" and included a section of bonus photographs which did not appear in the magazine as it was published.

Also, if you have the time, check out all of the Lusitania threads in the Encyclopedia Titanica, as there is a ton of good stuff there which you won't find in the books.
 

Eric Sauder

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Nov 12, 2000
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Hello, Mark:

Since you asked for suggestions about Lusitania books, I thought I'd chime in.

I'll start with ones to avoid. Unless you like spy novels, don't bother with Colin Simpson's "Lusitania." It is by far the worst book written. By extension, you can also forget about Dan Butler's book. He relies too heavily on Simpson and repeats the same errors Simpson made and adds many of his own. For the most part, what I read seems to be a rewrite of what's been written before. Butler may have done some original research, but it doesn't show. I tried reading it, got through about four or five chapters, and finally had to put it down out of frustration. There are so many major (and in my opinion, inexcusable) errors that I couldn't stand it.

On to the positive. I agree with Jim. Read Hoehling's "Last Voyage of the Lusitania." A few errors, but on the whole a good book.

If possible, try to find a copy of Charles Lauriat's "The Lusitania's Last Voyage." Excellent work and written by a survivor. They are available sometimes on eBay.

"Seven Days to Disaster" by Hickey and Smith is also a pleasant read. But when they start talking about passengers at the swimming pool, don't believe it! ;-)

The Ballard book is fair. Well, to be honest, the text is pretty bad and is riddled with errors (and you should see what they cut!). It was written by a novelist who had a bad habit of making things up to "improve" the story.... Only the illustrations (especially Ken Marschall's painting) make the book worthwhile.

I highly recommend "The Lusitania Disaster" by Bailey and Ryan. In a sense, it was written as a "review" of the Simpson book, and although I don't agree with some of their conclusions, it is far and away the best (and most informative) ever written. It's more of an "advanced" Lusitania book and is a pretty dense read so don't expect to breeze through it.

I'd like to thank Jim for the plug of my book.... and if you'd like a copy, Mark, write to me privately, and I'll get you one.

Eric Sauder
 
Mar 18, 2000
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Eric -

Since you've already given us a run down on a number of Lusitania books, what's your opinion about Patrick Sullivan's? I received a copy of it for X-mas.

Luckily, I DID get a copy of your and Ken's book a few years back - and enjoyed it quite a bit!
 

Jim Kalafus

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Hi, Folks: The Charles Lauriat book is available over at Bibliofind, as is Bailey and Ryan's excellent book which I glossed over in my initial listings.

There was also a mass market paperback (the sort one used to buy off of wire racks in drug stores) in the early to mid 1960s which was actually more factual than some of the later "prestige" books were. Don't remember the title, unfortunately, but I think that it was along the lines of "The Sinking of The Lusitania." In common with most of those books it was printed on acid-rich paper, and my copy has deteriorated to the extent where it is unreadable- and in common with most of those books it was never released in hardcover.

BTW- That Life magazine cover story ca 1972 is fairly bad, but if you can find a decent issue, the cover art frames quite nicely.

Has anyone out there read the Gary Gentile Lusitania books? I enjoyed his Andrea Doria book, even if I got a wry chuckle out of some of the photos of "recovered treasures" which were singularly ugly 1950's rococo Gift Shoppe items one would pass at a rummage sale without a second thought.....the idea of risking one's life for those items has an element of the bizarre and almost comic. But I digress, again....

A FINAL THOUGHT: That Hoehling book contains one particular error which bugs the devil out of me, and which has survived every printing (save for the mass market paperback editions)since 1956- I am talking about that photo of the Mauretania's First Class Lounge, captioned as though it were of the Lusitania. Bad enough to see it in that book, but then it started turning up in OTHER texts (I am removed from my library at the moment and the only one I can recall off the cuff is an article or articles in Sea Classics) sometimes with an identical caption, leaving me with the urge to contact the various authors and say "not only did you plagiarise, but you plagiarised an error."
 
M

Michael Friedman

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Dear Mr. Kalafus:

I believe the mass-market paperback book you have in mind is "The Day They Sank the Lusitania" by Donald Barr Chidsey. I saw it on a library rack in school about 1968 or so. Didn't read it then, but found a copy years later. I was somewhat disappointed, as it seemed short on detail. The only passenger I remember it discussing who was not covered by the Hoehlings was Max Schwarez.
 

Eric Sauder

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Jim:

Your irritation at Mauretania's Lounge being passed off as Lusitania's reminded me of a story.

While at the Mariners' Museum many years ago, I was looking through their Lusitania photo file and found a copy of the same Mauretania Lounge photo that Hoehling used. It was captioned as "Lusitania." I brought the error to the archivist's attention, explaining in great detail why it couldn't possibly be Lusitania, but his response was that I didn't know what I was talking about. He went on to say that since Hoehling captioned it as Lusitania, it must be Lusitania.

Eric Sauder
 

Jim Kalafus

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Eric- I can relate. I recently offered a researcher (in another field entirely) a key piece of information which only I possess (and which I assumed he would have KILLED for) only to be more or less called a liar because.....well...because "it is not possible that xxxxx was saved." HOKAY...if that's how he wanted to be, fine. But, xxxxx WAS saved and given to me by its EXTREMELY aged savior, SO I'll just watch that fellow flounder about and try to get published with a BIG hole in his research.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 12, 1999
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Hi Eric
I was digging through an old album I kept and I came across a surprise. I had Issac lehmann's personal account. I had forgotten I had it. It was published in a history book yeaars ago. He talks about being with Maurice Medbury and what not when the torpedo hit, etc....
I think Simpson had reprinted part of it in his book. I think this is more whole. Did you like the Cowper thing I sent?
Mike
 

Eric Sauder

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Nov 12, 2000
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Hello, Bill:

My apologies for the long delay replying to your question about Paddy O'Sullivan's Lusitania book. I'll start out by saying that of all the serious Lusitania researchers I have ever met, I consider Mr. O'Sullivan to be one of the finest. One of his biggest advantages is that he doesn't go into his research with a closed mind. He is open to any opinions and is readily willing to discuss any aspect of the sinking or any theory in a calm, reasonable manner, no matter how much it may differ from his own. He also takes nothing at face value, checking and double checking facts with a variety of sources.

His book takes a look at the sinking from a totally new perspective and is based on John Light's theory of aluminum powder being the cause of the second explosion. Is he right? I don't know. But too many "researchers" have dismissed the theory without giving it serious consideration. They seem to have made up their minds and are unwilling to accept any new thoughts on the subject.

I know that others have also criticized the book for what I consider frivolous reasons. In my opinion it is one of the most interesting Lusitania books ever written because it's not the same old stuff -- some original research actually went into it.

Glad to got a copy of my Lusitania book.... And even happier you liked it!

Regards,

Eric Sauder
 
Mar 18, 2000
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Thanks for the referal, Eric.

Not being as buried in Lustiania as I am in Titanic's, I wasn't too sure what to make of the claim of an aluminum powder explosion, as I hadn't run across it elsewhere.

My only real complain with Sullivan's book, is I would have liked more detail on the sinking itself, espcially survivor accounts.
 
Jun 10, 1999
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Michael:

If you can not find your copy of O'Sullivan's fine work at your B & N *sidewalk* sale...then may I refer you to casting your high bid for O'Sullivan's work... on none other than E-Bay. However I am in disgust with the derrivation of such a means to just approriate collectibles amongst one's particular field of interest...sometimes it acts for a last resort.

Good Luck!

Michael Cundiff
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Thanks for that, but I was soured on eBay when they offered up that alleged peice of Titanic steel several months ago. I had to figure that either it was a fraud or it was stolen if it was the real McCoy.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Since everyone here is talking about books, i thought id throw in a few words of my own on books. my personal library only contains 3 lusitania books, though luckily for me i live just a couple blocks from the main library in center city philadelphia where you can find just about any book in the world.

ill have to disagree w/ general opinion and recomend that anyone interested in lusitania read Colin simpsons book, it is very CONTROVERSIAL, though it is not FICTIONAL. it should be pointed out that simpson stated some good facts on lusitania.

1. bad stability, although bailys book claims the ship had good stability, truth is lusitania rolled heavily in even the calmest seas, which probably contributed to her quick sinking.

2. coal absorbing water, i think the lusitania's wouldve listed even more if her bunkers were full, though since it was near the end of the voyage, her bunkers didnt have much coal left.

3. also true, no stoker aboard lusitania reported a boiler explosion and examination of the wreck has totally discredited that theory and also simpsons thoery on gun powder, i'll have to go w/ a steam pipe explosion as cause of 2nd explosion.

4. simpson also put the place of the torpedoes impact where it actualled occured or close to it right beneath the bridge, where baily on the other hand places it between the 1st and 2nd funnels.

5. although i doubt that there was any ammunition in the coal bunkers of the active boiler rooms, as that space would be more important for storing coal, i do think it is possible that ammunition might have been stored in some of the coal bunkers of the boiler rooms that were not active.

Mr. Sauder may comment on my opinions if he would like to.

heres some other reccomended reading material

Lauriats book is good. diana prestons book is good, though has a few minor mistakes. Hickey and Smiths book is also good, though ignore comments in book bout pool on deck. Hoehlings book is also good, also read his book Lost at Sea which has an interesting chapter on the lusitania. Bailys book is good, and highly recomended, though ignore theories on boiler explosions. ballards book is good, though as Sauder pointed out, its more of a coffee table book, and is full errors due to its author Dunmore. also try visiting the web page Lusitania Controversy, points out errors in both simpsons and bailys book, very useful.
 

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