Encyclopedia Titanica

On a Sea of Glass : The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic

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On a Sea of Glass : The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic

People searching for new information on Titanic can be very specific in what element of the story they are interested in. Some are looking for technical and design information; Others want to see new photos of the ship. The history of the three sisters Olympic, Titanic and Britannic continues to fascinate researchers. Lastly, a book focusing on the passengers and crew will draw people to the human side of the story. On a Sea of Glass is a comprehensive book for those interested in every aspect of the lost liner.

The introduction by historian and author George Behe sets the tone of what to expect from Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton and Bill Wormstedt: an authoritative text, crystal clear photos, and a wealth of new information. A glance at the table of contents shows that every facet of the Titanic's story is explored in close detail.

No book should try to match Walter Lord's narrative, but this book has an intimate quality to it. The reader can imagine themselves mingling with an interesting cast of characters. Whether walking with Joseph Bell, the future chief engineer of Olympic and Titanic, through the Harland and Wolff yards or trying to find your way around Titanic with Charles Lightoller. There's the sad letter David Blair writes aboard the docked Titanic about how he would not be making the maiden voyage. Various lookouts asked officers repeatedly during the voyage for a pair of binoculars. The request was never denied, just the assurance they would get them 'later'. It's easy to sense the frustration coming from George Hogg and George Symons on this subject. It feels like eavesdropping to be in line at the pursers desk when Eleanor Cassebeer carelessly makes an anti-Semitic remark to the Jewish Ben Foreman; sitting in a chilly lounge with Philipp Mock as a steward told passengers they were nearing ice; when William Silvey slips an apple into the pocket of his wife's coat as they are preparing to evacuate.

The appendices examine myths, misinformation and dangling questions on a variety subjects. Take, for instance, the chapter on the candidates for an apparent suicide during the final minutes. All possibilities are shown through a skeptic's eye and with the evidence skillfully presented, it allows the reader to come to their own conclusion. Other sections cover whether or not binoculars would have made a difference, Thomas Andrews final movements, and the factors dealing with Titanic breaking apart, among other questions readers might have. The authors use mostly first person accounts to illustrate their arguments. Charts and diagrams help illustrate their points.

It's clear, by reading the end notes, that the three authors didn't rely on just the usual sources for information. That is a trap many people writing about the ship fall into. Hence why so many Titanic books are interchangeable. On a Sea of Glass is different. Many of the sources the reader sees will not be found in other books. Each page reveals a new fact, story, anecdote. It also shows a collaborative effort between the authors, other researchers, and descendants of Titanic families.
A book this size may have some minor grammatical errors, or a mis-caption or two, but overall most things appear to be checked and double checked.

There have been a number of excellent books that are coming out, or have come out to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking. This is one book that everyone interested in the ship must have. Fellow researchers will regard this as a definitive source to be consulted on the subject and readers will no doubt consider this book a favorite in their collection.


Michael Poirier, USA


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  1. Tad G. Fitch

    Tad G. Fitch said:

    Hello, here is an update on Kent Layton, Bill Wormstedt, and my book, which is going to press, possibly as early as tomorrow. As such, TMB Studios is being asked to place our order for stock of "On A Sea of Glass" as soon as possible; we will be determining our stock levels by the number of pre-orders placed, and we are almost certainly going to be the only retailer who can get it to American readers in time for the centennial anniversary. Please place your order by Wednesday to help ensure pre-anniversary fulfillment: tmbstudios com/proddetail.asp?prod=OASOG-Standard The book will be released in the UK first, then several months later in the US. If there are any questions, please let me know. Kind regards, Tad

  2. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Thanks for the heads up Tad. I'm going to have to place my order ASAP.

  3. J Kent Layton

    J Kent Layton said:

    Just a quick note: based on previous experience, we do not believe that American retailers such as Amazon, Barnes, Target, etc., will have time to get the book in stock before the centennial. We will be getting our stock super-fast direct from the publisher, and will be weeks ahead of any other retailer on this continent. And our US customers won't have to pay any international shipping fees to get (quickly) from Europe. A few more details of note: A4 interior page size, hardcover with dust-jacket Publisher's retail price: 50GBP/$80USD 440 pages + 16 pages of full color (total 456 pgs) Approximately 300,000 words Approximately 450 b&w photos/illustrations Approximately 70 full color photos/illustrations

  4. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Placed my order for the signed edition. Looking forward to it!

  5. Tad G. Fitch

    Tad G. Fitch said:

    Thanks Michael, I hope you enjoy the book, and I'm sure you will find it interesting. All my best, Tad

  6. Matthew Farr

    Matthew Farr said:

    Just ordered my signed copy as well. Looking forward to reading it!

  7. Tad G. Fitch

    Tad G. Fitch said:

    Thanks Matthew, I hope that you will enjoy the book. Kind regards, Tad

  8. Tad G. Fitch

    Tad G. Fitch said:

    I just found out from our editor that "On A Sea of Glass" is officially being printed, which means that it should be available soon. Here is the preorder link for those who haven't had a chance to reserve a copy yet: tmbstudios com/proddetail.asp?prod=OASOG-Standard

  9. J Kent Layton

    J Kent Layton said:

    What I am not sure anyone can understand without actually seeing the book is just how many different aspects of the disaster are touched on in its pages, and just how much detail we get in to in the narrative and appendices. It is an unprecedented tome on the legendary liner, and I can't wait until it starts arriving in people's hands and they are able to read it for the first time!

  10. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Kent, what's good to see with the avalanche of books and re-releases of some of the movies is that there are some real gems coming out from the hands of the varsity teams of Titanic researchers. I'm already reading my copy of the Centennial Reappraisal and I'm learning a lot. When I saw the names of the people behind On A Sea Of Glass, I knew this was going to be one of the "must haves."

  11. J Kent Layton

    J Kent Layton said:

    Thanks for the kind words, Mike! I've put up some preview spreads from the book so that everyone can have a taste of what this book will look and feel like in finished form. Hopefully everyone enjoys this sampling (although more will be coming through shortly, including the color section): http://web.archive.org/web/2012*/http://atlanticliners.com/onaseaofglass/onaseaofglassbook.html

  12. J Kent Layton

    J Kent Layton said:

    Well, I heard a truck in my driveway this afternoon. Peering out, I saw the yellow truck with the letters "DHL" on the side. A clearly-overwhelmed delivery girl then proceeded to carry nine large and very heavy boxes to my side door. Seconds before I saw the tag with the return-address, I figured out what it was. On A Sea of Glass had docked in America, finishing in four days the journey that Titanic could not finish one-hundred years ago. I've already claimed my own copy and flipped through every page. The book is tremendously large, heavy and well put together. The publishers really knocked themselves out making this a top-quality book, and it was stunning to see the 300,000 words that Tad, Bill and I labored over during the preceding months and years in finished format. Our own pre-orders have been flying through TMB and I've put up a few copies on eBay, as well. I think that most of our newly-arrived stock is already spoken for ... but there are still a few

  13. Jake Peterson

    Jake Peterson said:

    When should I expect to see it in bookstores? I'll certainly look for a copy next time I'm there.

  14. J Kent Layton

    J Kent Layton said:

    Jake, When it does eventually arrive State-side, it will be available everywhere. But that won't be for weeks yet. That's because the book is published in the UK and shipped to American retailers via 'slow boat'. We had ours shipped super-fast via air freight; not cheap, but we knew plenty of people would want to order and receive them in time for the 100th anniversary. Hope this helps!

  15. Jake Peterson

    Jake Peterson said:

    Well, Amazon gives a Jun 2012 release date, so I guess y'all were able to get it published earlier than expected. Will certainly look into buying a copy. I'll read through the descriptions and see if it's something I might be interested in getting.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2012) On a Sea of Glass : The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic (Titanic Review, ref: #15842, published 15 March 2012, generated 16th November 2022 11:18:24 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/on-a-sea-of-glass.html