Titanic The Last Great Images


Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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I had a sneak preview of this book, written by Dr.Ballard and Ain Coutts, while at a publisher's premises this week.

The title is somewhat pompous, and IMHO, none of the images can be described as "Great". The pictures are obviously digitally sourced, as they are from HD images taken during Ballard's last voyage, and the amount of "blow-up" of the images reveal the pixels and a lack of detail. Some of the photos are so murky that the detail is completely lost, and the pixels make the background a murky wash of green, blue and red. There are two photos which clearly show this: a shot of the bow, taken from 20-30 feet away, so illumination is poor; another photo is the A deck port-side promenade, looking aft. A lot of the pictures have been seen in the National Geographic and Return to the Titanic.

The text leaves something to be desired, and demonstrates Ballard's continued anti-salvage stance. Also, in his description of the crow's nest, showing a 1985 Angus picture, Ballard says that the photo shows "The crow's nest as it looked when I discovered the ship in 1985." Thats right, "I", no mentioned of "we".

Ballard says of the foremast; "The sad part is the missing crow's nest. Someone knocked it off. I wont say who, but in one of those expeditions to the wreck, at one point, if you watch their documentary, they show the crow's nest intact, and then later on they show it missing. They don't say anything but isn't it odd that during one dive it's there, and then its not?"

He later on notes that "since [his first trips to the wreck], the crow's nest has been torn away , and salvagers have taken both the masthead light and the telephone."

Of Captain Smith's quarters, Ballard writes: "That bulkhead was upright in 1986. Some people would say that its natural decay. Is it? Its almost impossible to say for sure, but to me its clear that the damage has been accelerated by human activity." He also places the blames on a lot of the alleged damage squarely with submarines.

He also brings up the story of his original plaque: "Someone took the plaque we left on the bow [sic] back in 1986, so we left a replacement ... I don't want to say exactly where because someone will take it."

All of the above comments have generated great debate, and some are highly dubious. One story (the salvage of the telephone from the crows nest) is a 100% falsehood.

My opinion? One for completists only. There are better books out there.

Publisher: Haynes/Madison
Cost £25
ISBN: 978 1 85260 615 2


Cheers

Paul
--
Pre-order my Titanic ebook at http://www.paullee.com/book_details.php
 

Paul Lee

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Minor mistake: one of the grotty picture is of the A deck starboard promenade, not portside as I said.

By the way, the book is about the same size as "Ghosts of the Abyss".
 
Nov 15, 2006
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It was great at the time that Ballard & Co found the Titanic, but why over the last few years has he set himself on this course of destructive jabs, critism and slanderous comments, and yet again for the uptenth time. Ballard, time to move on.

This book looks to be yet another of his cash-ins. A rehash of what already gone before. The title of "The Last Great Images" does appear to be misleading to say the least.
 

Tim Foecke

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Jul 16, 2003
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I asked him to read our book and consider a quote. He said "I would very much like to read your manuscript." Two days later, he wrote the editor with a laundry list of changes, all having to do with him and his legacy.

Needless to say, we ignored them
 
Feb 24, 2004
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Ballard has made a point of downplaying the French and Jean-Louis Michel's contribution to the 1985 expedition from the git-go. Heck, he wasn't even awake when they all stumbled across the debris field. I also have it on good authority from a researcher at Woods Hole that there was considerable resentment over so much money being diverted from hard research over to splashy big-ticket ventures (aka Ballard's). Whenever I've mentioned, or written anything about, the 1985 expedition, I've always made sure to include Ballard's name as part of an International Team - bet he'd hate that. '-)

Roy
 
Dec 14, 2007
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So, this book has finally been released. Browsed through a copy of it at Borders today. My impression?

Nothing new here. Photos are grainy, murky, and pixelated. Plenty of hand-wringing about salvage, self-inflation, and downplaying of the French participation in the 1985 expedition. Stick with "The Discovery of the Titanic" or "Ghosts of the Abyss" if wreck photos are your thing. NOT worth $40. Frankly, I'm irritated that Ballard is still cashing in on his glory days, instead of contributing anything new to the world of underwater research.

BTW, This was the same Borders who gave me a condescending "we never stock Titanic books anymore" attitude when I asked them when they'd get copies of "The Ship Magnificent" in stock, but has several copies of this book, "Titanic: A Night Remembered," and one of Gardiner's books on their shelves. Go figure.

Daryl.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Unfortunately, Titanic related books are not an especially hot seller on the market these days. This might seem almost a blessing save for the fact that a few of the old stalwarts are carried at the expense of newer and often better works.

I've seen this "new" book myself at Barnes & Noble. While it may have nothing new for some of the older hands at this, I would reccomend it for anybody who doesn't have any of Dr. Ballard's earlier work.
 

Tom McLeod

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I have a soft spot for DR. Ballard. When he discovered the wreck we corresponded for several years and he had a lot to say that boosted confidence in what I was doing in my life. When his son died and some other family problems took place it was a very tough time. Anyway, such doesn't excuse any behavior by him that can be offensive. I've landed on the good side of the man. I think he could offer more to the subject or others if he so chooses. I guess I just wanted to post another side of the man, not often talked about.
 
Feb 14, 2011
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Nothing new in the book, nice pictures, but most previously published- The amazing photo of the frame from one of the grand staircase domes was republished...The title of the book was somewhat arrogant- I'm uncertain if it was in reference to Dr Ballard's last visit to the wreck, or his feeling that noone else should see the wreck- and therefore he should have the last word....
I am constantly left with the impression that Dr Ballard cannot stomach others taking the Titanic spotlight away from him- his recent Titanic expedition and book had to follow on the heels of James Cameron's expedition, as James Cameron proved to be a far better Titanic explorer and researcher than Dr Ballard ever was....
Dr Ballard needed the spotlight to be shifted back on him...that is at least the impression I have been left with..His anti artifact recovery preaching gets tiresome....
I do hope expeditions to visit and explore the wreck resume, and continue for years..
The idea that the images within Ballard's book are the 'last' images we will have of the wreck is not a positive prospect...
Dr Ballard needs to step aside so more daring explorers- like James Cameron, can continue endeavors to chart and explore the wrecksite and the wreck interior..
 
Mar 22, 2003
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quote:

The title of the book was somewhat arrogant- I'm uncertain if it was in reference to Dr Ballard's last visit to the wreck, or his feeling that noone else should see the wreck- and therefore he should have the last word....
Hmmm! Maybe its simply a reference to the fact the wreck is deteriorating and things just won't look the same in a few years. Interesting how easy it is for some to think the worst of others.​
 
Feb 14, 2011
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Samuel, interpret it as you will- But Dr Ballard has demonstrated time and time again he feels he should have the last word on the Titanic.
Dr Ballard's past actions, preaching and comments have given me fair reason to 'think the worst' of him. Frankly, I find the man to be tiresome. I am far more interested in the accounts of James Cameron ,Parks Stephenson and Ken Marschall on the details of the layout and condition of the wrecksite. They have far more to contribute to the realm of Titanic exploration in terms of knowledge of the ship and understanding of the forensics of the sinking.

Regards

Tarn Stephanos
 

Sally Butler

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Mar 28, 2003
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No Need to panic, it's only the bottom half of the Titanic that is sinking!
That's all some people think about. There is more to Titanic then just the wreck.
Understanding how the ship was built will give a better insight into how it actually sank.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Samuel, interpret it as you will- But Dr Ballard has demonstrated time and time again he feels he should have the last word on the Titanic.<<

Really? I'm not aware of the man having ever said that or even insinuated that position. He has some strong opinions which are clearly at odds with those of others, but I would also point out that he has quite a bit of company as well.

And, regardless of what any of us may think of him personally, some of his concerns are not without foundation.
 

Tom McLeod

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James Cameron is no picnic either. But like Ballard I think it is their drive, the type A personality that pushed them on. Both have added to the Titanic lexicon. I respect them both. The driven, pushy, work-o-ohlic type aren't really my kind of people, but they get things done. They both can be very cordial and giving.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>But like Ballard I think it is their drive, the type A personality that pushed them on.<<

You may have a point with that one. Guys like Ballard and Cameron don't get where they are by being passive softies. They achieve what they do by being hard chargers. Unfortunately, they tend to make at least as many enemies as friends that way.

I'll grant that some of it may be justified, but I've seen a lot out there which is of the gratuitous "I-Can't-Attack-His-Position-So-I'll-Attack-His-Morality" veriaty that you see in politics that really has no bearing at all on whether or not Dr. Ballard's opinions are right or wrong.
 

Laura Jay

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Tom, I like Dr. Ballard a lot as well. I wrote him a letter way back in around 2002 or so and he wrote back. I'm debating whether or not to write to him again. Is there an email he'd respond to? I don't want to clog up his work email.
Anyway, while I don't necessarily call him the authority on the subject of the wreck, his opinion is the one I would trust the most on it. He doesn't want the wreck to be plundered for artifacts, etc, and I agree wholeheartedly with that. His books lack some real writing, though. I adored his Return to Midway where he chronicles each day in a diary, though his works after that are devoid of it. The PT 109 and Return to Titanic disappointed me some.
 

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