On a Sea of Glass


J Kent Layton

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Mar 27, 2004
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Ian, I'm very glad that you picked up a copy of OASOG. This is not the first time the size of the font has been mentioned, I'm afraid. Unfortunately, we came in at nearly double our contracted word length when we were writing the book, simply because there was so much that had to be included. Fortunately, our editor agreed with us, and did not force us to cut anything. However, it did require some work to get the layout right in the first edition. Then, when the first edition shrank from A4 to a slightly smaller page size in later editions, it only exacerbated the problem.

If you're having trouble reading the print, my suggestion would be to keep the physical copy and to pick up a copy of the book on Kindle, Google Books, iBooks, or the like. Not only is the font size totally customizable in digital format, but each of the many, many endnote references are all hyperlinked for ease of reference. The trade-off there is that the pictures are smaller in the digital version.

I can only hope that this suggestion helps, and that you enjoy your reading project! :)

Best,
Kent
 

IanMcD

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Jun 9, 2013
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Hello Kent. Thank you so much for responding to my post! I certainly wasn't expecting to get one from one of the authors of the book. I have Kindle but I still prefer holding an actual book. Plus having a book on a shelf just looks nicer than a tablet. I'm about halfway done with Sea of Glass. Its amazing to come across photos of the Titanic I've never seen before. You, Tad and Bill have done a thorough and wonderful job. I'm looking forward to ordering "Into the Danger Zone" next. That's a great topic for ocean liners and also Conspiracies at Sea. The photo in my avatar is that of the Lusitania. Are the Cunard liners your primary area of interest?
 

J Kent Layton

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Mar 27, 2004
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Hello, Ian, it's always great to hear from readers! I prefer having a paper copy of the book, as well, but more and more when doing research, I find myself reaching for my Kindle copy, where I can search text and phrases, and see the endnotes right there without having to flip around -- and in this book, the endnotes are where all the juicy bits (that led to the conclusions in the text) live. So my personal compromise is to have both. I'm glad you've managed to get through a good chunk of OASOG already, despite the font size.

I can wholeheartedly recommend Into the Danger Zone, it is a wonderful book. Tad Fitch and Mike Poirier outdid themselves with it. My own Conspiracies at Sea should prove very, very interesting to you with your love of the Lusitania. My in-depth analysis of the attack and the location of the torpedo impact threw everything out the window for me on that subject, and forced me to re-evaluate some of my previous thoughts on where the torpedo struck. It was a fascinating journey of discovery.

Titanic will always be my first passion. However, I love all of the liners; when I wrote Lusitania: An Illustrated Biography, I was able to explore one of my other much-beloved liners. I believe that the photo in your avatar (or one like it, it's difficult to tell from the small size of the picture) actually made it in to that volume. My other works include much material on other ships: The Edwardian Superliners: A Trio of Trios, The Unseen Mauretania [1907], The Unseen Aquitania (co-authored with Tad Fitch). It was really enjoyable sharing what I have discovered about these other ships with others; conversely, a lot of data that I have discovered on those ships have helped to inform me about certain aspects relating to the Olympic and Titanic. For example, my research on the German trio has helped me to understand that for the era, Olympic and Titanic were very well built ships. My study of Lusitania and Mauretania has helped me to understand that Olympic and Titanic's system of watertight subdivision was (ironically) vastly superior to the Cunarders'. It's like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and it's a lot of fun to learn and to share.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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OASOG is an excellent book, by some distance the best work on the actual disaster itself. As Kent says, get the hardback paper copy; for books like this, you can NEVER use it as conveniently with a Kindle edition.

The writing style is what I like best - chronology with continuity. It is written both from a people perspective as well as chronology of events as they occur. This means that there is very well edited "catching up" on someone or something a page or two further up. To explain, you may read about what Wilde was doing in one page, followed by some other events occurring elsewhere at the same time. But a page or two down the line, the authors get back to where they left off with Wilde and so on. This enables the reader to "keep moving" with the events during the sinking and at the same time keep track of the people involved.

The other thing - even better I'd say - is the massive reference and appendices section, superbly linked by little numerals as appropriate.

I am 65 years old with long term astigmatism and did not find the font size any problem.

I'll probably be crucified for saying this but that all important aspect that mentioned above - smooth chronology blending into continuity - is one area where Walter Lord's ANTR struggles.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Readers should also consider how difficult it would be to compile such work. First of all, there is the research; then collating the obtained material and filter out the unlikely from the likely; then converting what is left into a proper chronological narrative with all the necessary detail; finally provide appropriate references and appendices so that the more uncertain or controversial issues can be openly discussed....and so on.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I recently ordered and got "Sea of Glass". It looks impressive but the small font size of the letters makes it a little challenging to read.
As I said, I personally had no problems with the font size. Also, one has to consider the scope of the material and the space necessary to include all the details. I for one would not want anything edited out of the book to allow for a larger font size; by the same token, including everything that is now there plus a larger font would have made the book uncomfortably large and heavy, something not ideal for an often used reference tool.

IMO it was a trade-off and a very acceptable one.
 
Jul 4, 2021
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Skegness
The book does discusses May Futrelle, Ida Hippach and Carrie Chaffee's accounts of them mentioning the bow rising up.

May Futrelle "She began to settle by the nose. Then came two dull explosions. We saw her break in two. The bow, which had been pointing downwards, dipped, turned up again, writhed and sank with the stern".

Hippach "Then we started to row. I knew the ship was sinking fast, because I saw the port holes were near the water. We heard some one cry in an appealing voice to us to come back and get more passengers, but we did not dare to. The boat listed so much to one side that I felt sure we would be swamped. When we had rowed about 150 yards away from the Titanic we heard a fearful explosion. I saw the ship split open. At the same time the ship's bow rose up in the air as the steamer sank towards the center."

Carrie Chaffee "The ship sank steadily until just at the last, when it plunged rapidly. Just before going down it seemed to writhe, breaking into the three parts into which it was divided. First the middle seemed to go down, lifting bow and stern into the air. Then it twisted the other way, throwing the middle up. Finally the bow went under, and it plunged, stern last."

What they really saw if you read the final plunge section of the book and The Losing Battle chapter was the ship righting itself, as discussed on other threads that boat deck moved up after the ship returned from a port list to an even keel, the bow recovered very briefly before going back down. If you were in a boat around the port side where Hippach and Chaffee where with the port list easing it would look like the bow rose out of the water and around the starboard where Futrelle was similar thing but with the starboard side lowering and boat deck more visible, with the boat deck rising up slightly perhaps look like the bow rose up in reverse.
 
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