Bruce Caplan Interview
Mr. Caplan how did you get interested in Titanic?
In 1953 there was a marvelous motion picture staring Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb which told the saga of the Titanic. My fifth grade teacher had viewed the movie and she was so taken by the story that she was able to create a life-long interest in the Sinking of the Titanic for me and most of her other students.
What books have you written? And how did you do your research?
As an author my topics have been eclectic. We had a beautiful dog who lived until he was 17. Our family was devastated when "Napoleon", passed away! This wonderful creature was able to communicate with all of us and he almost had the ability to talk. My first book was about him and it was titled "Buster Boppington and his Talking Dog." It's about a boy and his pet, who solve mysteries together.
Another book that I've written was about a famous murder trial that took place in 1924. Two young men who were off the charts on their IQ's plotted and attempted to commit the perfect crime. There have been over 300 books written about the crimes of Leopold and Loeb and also two Hollywood productions.
Currently I'm working on a thriller titled "Only Your Vote.com". it's a mystery with political connotations. In the novel I attempt to prove that political contributions no longer have the impact that they once had, because today social media has the real clout.
Plus, in 1996 you edited and re-issued Logan Marshall's book titled, "The Sinking of the Titanic" how did this happen?
In the year 1981, my secretary Mary Ambur surprised me with an original copy of the Logan Marshall text. It was the first published narrative after the demise of the Titanic and It was titled, "The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters."
Logan Marshall the author interviewed survivors when they arrived in New York in April of 1912. I edited and abridged the book and shortened the title to "The Sinking of the Titanic". It took me about three months to re-edit the text. I did not change any of the author's words, but I did remove much of the verbosity, which greatly improved the flow to the readers. My edition of Marshall's text is now in the 19th printing and has sold over 100,000 copies.
What is the one piece of Titanic information most people aren't aware of?
For about a decade I've been a visiting author at two of the most fantastic museums in the world. They're located in Branson Mo. and Pigeon Forge Tennessee. These two structures are wonderful time-machines that catapult visitors back to 1912. Most people are shocked to learn that the Titanic was on fire before any of the passengers boarded and that the fire which smoldered in a coal bin between the 5th and 6th compartments, was not extinguished until a day prior to the collision with the iceberg. Of the 1912 texts, only Logan Marshall wrote about the fire.
In 1996, when my edited book came out, I hypothesized that it was the coal fire that had weakened the ship and that was why the iceberg was able to deliver its fatal blow. Many experts disagree with my hypothesis, but today they all agree that the ship definitely was on fire for many days prior to hitting the iceberg.
Would you like to go to the Titanic wreckage site?
I think that it's wonderful and amazing that in 1985 Robert Ballard discovered the great ship lying 12,500 feet below the ocean. A frequent visitor to Branson and Pigeon Forge is actor, and author Lowell Lytle. Lowell looks more like Captain Smith of the Titanic, than the original Captain.
Lowell, has been down to the site and his description of how difficult it was to travel two and a half miles below the ocean and back has been enough to satisfy me. I love to sail and I'm a frequent lecturer on cruise ships, but I'm not into to traveling to the bottom of the ocean in a tiny submarine.
What would most people be surprised to find out about you?
For the past five years, I've been doing two weekly radio shows. They're broadcast out of Seattle on KIXI AM. Radio Trivia, often gives away prizes and we play the old mysteries and comedies of yesterday's radio. Crime Club does the same, but plays only the wonderful mysteries of the golden days of radio. www.crimeclub.com. www.radiotrivia.com.
Do you have a family? Where do you live?
My family has been in Seattle for over a century. My grandfather was a gold miner in the Alaskan gold rush. My wife Esther and I have been married for almost 45 years. We have two wonderful daughters and wonderful grandchildren too.
Our daughter Brianna, is a noted author in the children's genre. We're very proud of her great success. We're proud of our daughter Rachel too. Rachel has worked for Random House for many years.