Which edition do you have? Any answer to the book's reliability depends on whether it still has Titanic myths such as 'NO POPE' presented as fact. Also, while I can't remember the details of the material presented, I do remember the Californian section being criticised by others here.
Overall, I'd say it's an accessible read, but E&H's Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy is generally regarded as a better source. I'm also sure someone else will be along shortly and post a different opinion.
It's certainly not reliable, as Fiona said. Apart from misplaced sympathy for Captain Lord, they also include the Rappahannock fiction. There are even inventions that are quite without witnesses, such as Hartley telling the band they are free to save themselves.
As well as inaccuracies, I find the writing style pretentious. "The law in all its infallible majesty had spoken". That's just one example among dozens. Personally, I class Eaton & Haas among the great hunters and gatherers but the writing is tedious and the interpretation of evidence weak.
I've got a copy of Destination Disaster the 2nd edition. While personally I enjoyed the book I will say that E & H have a style of writing that is both excellent and very frustrating at the same time. I DO think they captured the human side of the disaster well (although again as Dave said they "fill in" a lot of holes on their own) but the book is not written in a particularly logical order (I found it annoying that they jumped forward and back in time, as well as the last chapters being a bit confusing). Also their facts are a bit crossed. They include the Rappahannock story as Dave said (Mark, I think the Samson may be in there too, I need to look) and their bias toward the Californian is pretty strongly apparent. Overall it's not a really bad book but not one of my higher rated ones.
Thank you all for your input I had no idea that any Titanic book would be unreliable (save perhaps ones written right after the sinking) As for those of you who has questions as to which edition I have I think it may actually be a third edition because until the copyright it says their names and then it gives three years 1987, 1992 and 1996.
Anyway even if my book isn't that reliable or interesting hopefully this thread will help someone else if they're thinking of buying this book.
I think I must have the same edition as you Bill because mine says "revised and expanded" and it has that same copyright. Is yours paper back because mine is.
Also I just wanted to ask, I've seen quite a few mentions on this message board about the Eaton and Hass book "Triumph and Tragedy" is this book any better than the Destination Disaster one or is it just as bad?
>>Out of curiosity, what do people think of E & H's case that the last music was indeed "Neared my God to Thee"? I thought it was an interesting conclusion to say the least.<<
Considering that it's based on some contradictory testimony, I tend to be very skeptical of it. May or may not be true, but like so many aspects of the mythos surrounding the ship, it makes for a great story.
I found T&T to be better organized than Destination Disaster but I also thought it had less information than I had expected. The pictures are wonderful but the writing is overall disappointing. Factually wise, its relatively similar to DD, although again the biases of the authors in some issues are pretty apparent. Overall, while I enjoy it, I was disappointed to find the text a bit..thin in spots. IMHO it is anyways.
Logan, for what it's worth, I think that the most likely final hymn was Nearer, My God, to Thee. It was testified to by many people and I think I'm right in saying that it was mentioned on Carpathia, before the press had a chance to play with the story.
It probably would never have been questioned if Harold Bride, the wonderful underwater musicologist hadn't put his oar in. He confused the issue and The New York Times and Walter Lord made it worse. As Bride was one of the worst witnesses on anything, I disregard him.
The supposed problem of British and American tunes may not exist. American evangelists had taken the US tune to Britain during the 19th century. In Australia, I've never heard any other tune.
I believe that I've seen a hardcover edition of DD in our public library system before. I'm not 100% sure but I believe it was the first edition. I also must stand corrected, my copy is the 1st edition. I haven't seen the 2nd edition for sale lately. The only major difference I had noticed was a new "Titanic Past and Present Section" in the back.
Also, has anyone here ever read the E&H book "Falling Star"? This book sounds interesting but I believe it is out of print. For those not familiar with it, it is a chronicle of all the accidents, collisions and illegal actions of the White Star Line in it's history.
There seems to be some confusion on the printing history of this book, so here is the scoop. Before we get to that, though one needs to understand the difference between a second printing and a second edition. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are very different things.
A second printing is simply a reprint of the original book, without any changes. You can have a hundred printings but they are still all technically the same edition of the book.
A second edition only occurs when some portion of the original work is updated, altered or expanded. Second editions are often called revised editions, expanded editions, etc. Every time some new format of the book is added or altered, you would have a new edition. As books are revised over time you can have multiple editions, ten or more are not uncommon.
But if the revised edition is reprinted as is, with no changes, that becomes a second printing of the revised edition. As long as the text of the revised edition is not changed, each new printing would be 3rd, 4th, 5th printing, not a new edition..
The printing history of this book is as follows. The first printing was in 1987, by WW Norton in the US and Patrick Stephens in the UK.
There was a second printing in 1991, which would have been identical to the 1987 version. There may or may not have been a new cover illustration for this second printing - I'm not sure about that, but that would be the only difference.
In 1996 the revised edition was released, again on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1998 there was a second printing of the revised edition, although far as I can tell this was only released in the UK, not in the US.
All editions of this book have been in softcover. Libraries get special versions, they are even called library bindings, where the covers are transfered to boards, making it a hardcover version. This is done, because by their nature, library books get a lot of handling, and softcover versions just don't hold up to the amount of use. Other than for libraries, there has never been a hardcover edition of this book.
That is probably much more than anyone ever wanted to know about this, but there you have it.
On a somewhat more alarming note, I think it is unfortunate that E&H's book has been described as "not reliable", "biased" and other such terms. Calling their support of Captain Lord "misplaced sympathy" seems out of line, too. Misplaced really depends on which side of the fence you sit on this contentious issue, doesn't it? It's like suggesting that Leslie Reade's book on the Californian contains misplaced hostility towards the captain.
I would suggest the same thing on the issue of bias. Bias is usually used against someone whose opinion you happen to disagree with. Is Leslie Reade biased against Captain Lord because he thinks Lord was guilty? I don't think so, anymore than I think E&H are biased in their opinions.
Suggesting the Triumph and Tragedy is light on text is a true statement, perhaps, but then it is a photographic history of the story. The pictorial representation of the disaster is one of the best ever produced on the subject. There are other excellent histories on the topic that are text based, with far less images - are they better or worse for that? Or just a different approach.
It seems a shame to me that Eaton & Haas are getting a mostly negative wrap in this thread. During the 1990's they were the Titanic historians, and their work, put in the context of their time, was revolutionary for the volume of material they brought to the reader, especially Triumph & Tragedy.
Certainly they are a bit ponderous in their use of the language, that has never been their strongest suit. But their contribution to our access to information cannot be denied.
I am not trying to be confrontation here, my only goal was to try and put Eaton & Haas' books into a more balanced perspective.
as always, all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
Michael, thanks for the info. I'll be checking my copy of Destination Disaster against your listing to see which edition/printing I have.
I'm one of the people who mentioned 'reliability' in relation to some of the book's content. It's T:T&T that I regard as the better book (albeit its intent is different), and I have both the first and second editions so can appreciate E&H's subsequent work (and revisions) all the more. Sadly, I still don't have a copy of their more recent book.