Ghosts of the Titanic

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HarperCollins, Jul 1, 2001 - History - 293 pages
4 Reviews

What really happened on that unforgettable April night in 1912?

Even after nearly a century, many facts about the sinking of the "unsinkable" ship, Titanic, remain a mystery, as potent and perplexing as ever. But now, Dr. Charles Pellegrino -- whose New York Times bestseller, Her Name, Titanic, is considered one of the preeminent books on the unparalleled catastrophe -- returns to an icy, mile-wide graveyard two and a half miles beneath the surface of the ocean to set free the ghosts that linger among the twisted wreckage. Using surviving first-hand accounts, remarkable new evidence, cutting edge technology and latest oceanic findings, he gives us the most vivid, poignant, shocking, and compelling re-creation yet of the doomed liner's horrific final moments -- and offers stunning, never-before-revealed truths about the great, tragic leviathan's history, fate, and breathtaking legacy.

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Charles Pellegrino is an archaeologist (amongst other things) and has travelled to the bottom of the ocean to investigate the Titanic. Not only does this book talk about his expeditions, but he also ... Read full review

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George Zebrowski: After New York Times Book Reviewer Michael Parfit claimed that Pellegrino (a scientist who explores life on the abysal plains with some of the world's top scientists and engineers - and who has sailed with Robert Ballard's team for months at a time) was too dumb to know that life was not a dominant condition on the abysal plains, Sir Arthur Clarke responded:
"Fascinating. We now have it on the authority of the New York Times Book Review that NASA scientists ought to save their time and money and simply stop designing probes to look for life on Mars - in the form of bacteria - because if they do find bacteria there, they will not have found life. Mud from the abyssal plains, handful for handful, has more microorganisms than mud from the Amazon rainforest [to say nothing of near-microscopic nematode worms, mullusks, and crustaceans]. The Times have completely misread biology, as they misunderstood basic physics when they castigated Robert Hutchings Goddard for being too ignorant to know that rockets could never fly in space."
When Parfit's book review-based accusation that Pelegrino has attempted to build a career by creating "imaginary friendships with famous people," was met prompltly by letters from such "imaginary friends" as Arthur C. Clarke and Walter Lord (James Cameron did not immediately respond, because he was too busy preparing to bring none other than his friend Pellegrino to the Titanic, for his "Ghosts of the Abyss" expedition; and only Robert Ballard remained silent [owing to a parting of ways over whether or not artifacts should be recovered from the Titanic and studied {the main topic of "Ghosts of the Titanic"} - about which Ballard famously commented that he should have drowned Pellegrino when he had the chance]), Parfit responded, in the New York Times, by revising his claim downward to only one imaginary famous friend:
"The quotations I cite in my review ["At Sea with a Sunken Ship"] illustrate the way Pellegrino engineers an inaccurate impression that he is Robert Ballard's scientific colleague. Ballard's brief citation of Pellegrino's downblast theory - the only mention of Pellegrino in the main text of 'Discovery of the Titanic' - does not contradict that. In the mention, Ballard describes Pellegrino as a writer, not a fellow scientist."
Now, let's see if I've got this surrounded: Parfit says that Ballard cites Pellegrino's scientific theories in his book, but this does not mean that Pellegrino is one of Ballard's scientific colleagues. Ballard, the writer, describes Pellegrino as a fellow writer, but again, they are not colleagues. The logic escapes me. For too many people the truth, whether in science or in social life, is just too dramatic to believe.
Just as oddly, Parfit found Pellegrino's support of Cameron's hypothesis (backed by survivors' accounts) that the Titanic's solid oak grand Stairway was not eaten by wood worms but broke away and floated out through the crystal dome as the ship sank - utterly ridiculous. Nevermind that detailed forensic archaeological investigations (combined with the discovery that wood almost everywhere beyond the grand stairway is remarkably intact)have confirmed beyond serious dispute what common sense had been dictating all along: the stairway floated away, because the notion that wood floats was neither ridiculous nor untennable in the first place. Add to this riduculousness Parfit's untennable claim that the survivors' accounts Pellegrino cites (the Lord-and-Pellegrino File) are all made up: Notwithstanding the fact that the Files have been replicated for the British Maratime Museum and the Titanic Historical Society, and are downloadable for free on Pellegrino's website.
As Pellegrino and I cannot say often enough: Education. There is no substitute.

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About the author (2001)

Charles Pellegrino has been known to work simultaneously in entomology, forensic physics, paleo-genetics, preliminary design of advanced rocket systems, astrobiology, and marine archaeology. The author of eighteen books of fiction and nonfiction, including Unearthing Atlantis, Dust, Ghosts of the Titanic, and the New York Times bestseller Her Name, Titanic, he is the scientist whose dinosaur-cloning recipe inspired Michael Crichton's bestselling novel Jurassic Park. Dr. Pellegrino lives in New York City.

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