William McMaster Murdoch A Career at Sea


Dec 12, 1999
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Well, I suppose there might be little harm in ordering it, just to make my own mind up...and if I don't like it, then I can use it for a doorstop.
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Inger Sheil

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It's always a good idea to read a book and make your own mind up about it, and I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from doing that (with the exception of a couple of the Gardiner tomes...there are some books that one simply should not even waste the time and effort on). If you are interested in Murdoch, then this book is essential - there is information in it that you could only obtain, if at all, through much laborious effort. Given that it's targetted at a niche audience, most of the readers are going to have enough background in the subject to identify where its strengths and weaknesses lie (some of which are in the eye of the beholder). Most of the folks I've discussed it with came to similar conclusions as those we've seen outlined above.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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All,

I've enjoyed reading the thoughtful and thorough reviews by Pat, Inger and Michael. Murdoch has always been a figure of interest and controversy and it would appear that this latest work proves he will likely remain so.

Regarding the question of Murdoch's direct handling of Boat 1's launch - the only subject relating to this great man in which I have any informed opinion - I would like to add my support to Inger's belief that it was more than probably Lowe who was the officer most actively involved in the procedure. We know it was he, and not Murdoch, who personally assisted Cosmo and Lucy Duff Gordon aboard. Moreover Lowe's humorous remark in his testimony at the Inquiry later, referencing the latter passenger, is in keeping with the witticism directed at Stengel that is usually attributed to Murdoch.

A question I have for Ing or anyone else who might know: how closely was Jenni Atkinson involved with this project? Or was she at all involved? I know of her great interest in Murdoch and know she has done a good bit of research herself. I have not heard from Jenni in a long while and wondered as well what she thinks of this new book? Have you spoken with her lately Ing?

Thanks again to everyone for sharing their thoughts and impressions on the book.

Randy
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Randy :) Yah, we've gone over the loading of #1 a few times together, haven't we!

I have discussed the book with Jenni quite extensively, but would not feel comfortable attempting to express her views without her permission. Jenni is in contact with Susanne, but - as far as I know - was not involved in the preperation of this book. I did notice that the role of Jenni and her husband were a rather glaring omission in the discussion of the campaign in the wake of the Cameron movie.

I'd love to see Jenni write a book, as she has had considerable publishing success in the past and knows more about Murdoch than possibily anyone.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Hi Inger,

I hope Jenni does do a book on Murdoch. She certainly has the requisite passion and experience.

And I didn't mean for you to speak for her. I was sort of hoping I could prompt her to pop up on the thread and join us. I know she stops in from time to time.

Again, great review Ing!

Randy
 
Dec 13, 1999
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I take Michael's comment about English not being Susanne's first language with much interst. Susanne asked me to proof read the manuscript, which I did. Unfortunately, some German phrases simply don't translate into English, and I sincerely hope that I didn't cause too much mayhem!
Agree with Susanne's reasoning or not, and obviously someone with as deep a passion for the subject of Murdoch is going to view things through slightly rose tinted specs! you simply cannot imagine (with the exception of Inger and a few others) the amount of sheer hard work and devotion that went into writing it. I played host to the author for several days whilst she tracked down some of Murdoch's Liverpool haunts, her enthusiasm and dedication is on a level with Randy's knowledge of the Duff Gordons.
I'll readily admit that some of the text can be a tad repetetive and there is perhaps an overkill of information pertaining to other voyages, but all books have their faults and Susanne simply suggests an alternative to the accepted story.

Geoff
 
Mar 20, 2000
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I am sure Susanne's work is great. I can't wait to read it. I certainly meant no disrespect to her when commenting about Jenni's passion for the subject. I have all possible respect and empathy. I can only imagine how hard the book was for her to research and I hope she knows her labor is much appreciated by those of us who either have read or are eager to read her work.
 

Inger Sheil

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I don't think anyone could doubt the depth of Susanne's passion for the subject, Geoff
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Her book certainly stands as a testimony to that! I do feel strongly, however, that she subjects other crewmen to the same sort of treatment that she feels Murdoch has been unjustly subjected to in the past. At least, though, she is willing to go off the beaten track - both in her theories and in sourcing her material. Hopefully Susanne will also join in this discussion and we can discuss her work with her in greater detail.

Randy, I would also very much like for Jenni to join in on any of the ET discussions. Whether she will or not I don't know, however, as she's quite a private person. We can hope, though!
 

Mike Herbold

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Dec 13, 1999
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I'm only about a third of the way through Susanne's book, so its too early to comment. I am really impressed with her much improved command of the English language since her first Murdoch book.

I bought my copy from Michael Tennaro, and was surprised to receive it with even more protection than that supplied by the publisher. Michael took the time and effort to wrap the book in a clear plastic book cover. It's obvious by the way he treats them that my good friend is a true lover of books.
 
Mar 18, 2000
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Ditto to what Mike says regarding books from Michael Tennaro - the best packing I've seen.

I just started Susanne's book the other day, with other commitments, it'll probably take me a month or so to get thru it.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I can third what's been said about the care that Mike takes with his books. I've bought from him several times and a battleship would do as well to have that much protection. I keep an eye on his website in case something turns up that I want.
 

Pat Winship

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May 14, 1999
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I'll agree with you on Mike's packing. Good work, Mr.Bookseller.

I'm also glad to see that people are discussing this book. I was clumsy in my critique, compared to Inger, Mike, and Geoff-- well said, you folks!
I'm eager to hear what the rest of you have to say. Again, I would be most interested in knowing what the professional mariners on tthis board think of the idea of an Oceanic versus Adriatic rift among the crew of the Titanic.

Pat W.
 

Pat Winship

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Mike, Ms.Stoermer feels that the former members of the Adriatic's crew were sort of a "family" as were those who were transferred from the Oceanic to the Titanic. In order to understand her views well, you need to read the book-- I can tell you the basic idea, but not all the details. Personally, I've got my doubts about the theory, but I'm not a sailor. That's why I'd like to hear what some of the "been there, done that" people have to say about it.

Patience, friend, patience. The US Snail will get it to you eventually! Better that you read her account, than accept my abbreviated, and biased version!

Pat W.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Given the turnover of the crews in the merchant service, I don't know if any one group would be together long enough to develop that sort of esprite de corps. Perhaps David Haisman and Erik Wood can better speak to that then I can since their experience is in the merchant marine. I do know that in the Navy, it wasn't much of a problem. I certainly never noticed much in the way of cliques from other ships.

Guess I'll have to wait until I get my copy befor I comment any further though. The U.S. Snail seems to be taking it's time getting the thing to me. Mike T's shop is down in Florida, so my bet is that they send it to South Carolina by way of Beruit!
 

James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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Hi Inger--

I am FAR away from my Titanic library at present, but Ms. Stormer's account of the woman asking about Murdoch at the American inquiry sounds VERY familiar. Have you tried looking in Wyn Craig Wade's "Titanic: End of a Dream?" If I remember correctly, Senator Smith instructed Lightoller to take the woman outside and inform her of Murdoch's fate.

Jim Smith
 
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David Haisman

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Hi There!
There are many factors which would determine whether the crew of any British merchantman could be deemed as that of a ''happy family'' or otherwise. Board of Trade had established articles of signing for the duration of up to two years. This also included quite specific requirements of the way the company would have to feed you within certain parameters. If for any reason, and it has happened, that a crew were kept away longer than that, the company would have to pay double wages until the crew returned home. With short voyages, as in the case of many Cunarders, crew could sign off and on at the end of each voyage if they wanted to, but many stayed until the end of articles as they were considered ''good jobs''. In this scenario, many became good shipmates but this would only be a percentage of the total crew which would be changing every two weeks or so.
With long voyages on cargo ships, sometimes up to a year or more, you just had to put up with your cabin mates and at times, hardly a ''happy family'' atmosphere existed, more like good self control being the order of the day!
One of my voyages was on an oil tanker tramping around the Far East for well over sixteen months and in that time quite a few of the crew had jumped ship in Australia and as a result, several DBS (Distressed British Seamen)were signed on in their place. There were many shipping company's on these long runs and few crew ever signed back on for another ''dose''
I suppose the short answer to sailing out with a good ''crowd'' would be on the shorter voyages of say, up to a month or so but any longer, it's doubful if the ''happy family'' syndrome would apply.
In my book, ''Raised On The Titanic'' there are some interesting bits and pieces about the British Mercantile Marine,
Hope this helps,
All the best,
David
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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G'day James -

Yes, I've seen Wade's account of the woman's appearance at the American Inquiry (and also have a copy somewhere of the contemporary newspaper coverage of the incident).

What I question is Stormer's interpretation of the event - she has put a very innocent spin on it, stating (without qualification) that the woman was a 'friend', implying that she was more a friend of O'Loughlin's. However, there is no evidence cited for this contention, and the woman is not even identified! There are other constructions that could be put on the incident, not all of them entirely innocent, but (as far as I know) there is no evidence justifying the certitude of Susanne's depiction of this matter.
 
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David Haisman

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Just to define the term DBS ( Distressed British Seaman) This was not soley for seaman rejoining a British ship in Australia but was a signing on category entered in their discharge books. Many of these men were put ashore at various ports worldwide for many reasons but the main cause was illness. It should be pointed out that back in the 50's and 60's, cargo ships and tankers had little or no medical personnel onboard and the only way to deal with appendicitis or some other serious complaint was to radio to the nearest vessel for assistance.....if there was one around. Usually the Captain had a medical manual or perhaps the Chief Steward had a First Aid certificate but most of the time you had to suffer until reaching port. It was a long wait on a nine knotter crossing the Indian Ocean with a roaring toothe ache but a crushed up clove from the ships galley, rammed into the cavity usually did the trick.
How my heart goes out to those iron men on wooden ships of yesteryear.
David
 

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