Book Review - Return To Titanic by Robert D. Ballard
Since I find the whole Titanic story fascinating, I checked out Return To Titanic - A New Look At The World's Most Famous Lost Ship by Robert D. Ballard with Michael S. Sweeney. It's a beautiful book with a definite agenda.
Ballard was the person who originally discovered the sunken remains of the Titanic in 1985. He returns for another look at the ship in May 2004 and undertakes a project to get as complete of an external photo record of the ship as possible. He has definite opinions about the large number of visitors and scavengers who have, in his view, greatly accelerated the deterioration of the ship over the last few years. By comparing photographs of certain key areas, you can see where damage has occurred. Certain popular spots on the ship have become defacto landing areas for submersibles, and they've broken down decking and walls. Pirate scavengers have literally torn open parts of the ship or cut off sections in order to get prized souvenirs, like the phone system from the crow's nest where the first iceberg sighting occurred. The photography is beautiful, and the story of the return trip is interesting.
The only thing that keeps me from giving this book a full five stars is the fact that the author is *very* opinionated about the damage to the ship being caused entirely by human visitors. He's adamant that things should be a "look but don't touch" situation, and I'm inclined to agree. But writing off all deterioration to people instead of the ravages of being submerged for over 90 years is a bit extreme. Since there's no baseline from 1912 forward, you have to assume that pictures from 1985 chronicle the way the ship was during all that time. I don't know that you can prove that conclusively. Regardless, if the Titanic is of interest to you, you should enjoy this book quite a bit.