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on 31 March 2012
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.
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on 26 April 2012
I have been a Titanic enthusiast for 45 years and have collected most of the good books on the subject. ON A SEA OF GLASS is easily the best written book on the subject by some distance. Extremely well researched, detailed and unbiased, it covers almost all aspects of the loss of the great ship. The most impressive aspect of the book is its careful editing, helping the reader to maintain continuity and orientation while learning about events in various parts of the ship as it slowly foundered that fateful night.

Survivor quotes and reactions are mentioned without resorting to any melodrama - often a problem with previous books on the subject. The authors' own opinions, where given, are systematically analysed based on evidence and common sense without resorting to any self-opinionated bias. The extensive appendices are an excellent bonus, adding to the overall superb quality of the book.

On a further appreciative if slightly (pseudo)negative sounding note, I want to say that this book is meant for the serious Titanic enthusiast and not the general Joe Public with a passing interest. It is meant for those of us who ponder at length about 'trivia' like "What were the contents of the note that Captain Smith sent through QM Olliver to Chief Engineer Bell?" or "At what time was collapsible C actually lowered?" and so on.
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on 24 August 2016
Over a hundred years have passed since the golden era of Edwardian superliners and we still stand in awe at the craftsmanship of these grand marvels just as those curious before us. They were said to be "practically unsinkable" and you know the ships' names as they were the elite of the Oceans and Seas that drew crowds of wanderers with their advertised newness and grandness to conquer the waves in style and become a story to tell within society circles. Entrancing then and now, we seem to never get enough of the prospect to explore these amazing innovations. Today however we quietly reflect as each unfortunate centennial arrives of these majestic ships that now peacefully rest at the bottom of the oceans and question what went so horribly wrong with these once wonders of the seas? While the names of Olympic, Mauretania, Britannic and Lusitania are a few names mentioned of these scrapped and lost liners, On a Sea of Glass is the Titanic's story and explores the multiple questions and mysteries that will probably forever follow in her wake.

A magnificent array of historic facts will greet the reader with On a Sea of Glass: The Life and Loss of the RMS Titanic as they follow the Titanic from impressive ambitious beginnings to her harrowing demise and finally to stirring echoes of the aftermath. About half of the book is dedicated to the narrative of the Titanic as carefully researched facts and the lives of her: innovators, tradesmen, builders, designers, benefactors, passengers and crew become a unique feature of this book as their shared voices tell the ship's story. The other portion is comprised of essays that reexamine the most well known legends and conspiracy theories attached to the Titanic and another section is dedicated to the survivors and what happened to them long after April 15, 1912. There is also a segment of pictures in the back that shows places of interest, memorabilia and interesting tidbits of trivia. Stunning photographs fill chapters throughout and it becomes hard to not just stare at the page and imagine a simpler time but also the feel the icy breath of that April night on your neck.

In the end, I found this work to be a masterful exploration of historic events pertaining to the Titanic. I would have to say by the time you read A Night to Remember, The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories and Secrets Behind the Sinking of the "Unsinkable" Ship-Titanic and On a Sea of Glass: The Life and Loss of the RMS Titanic you will know and be aware of every little fine detail that can be put forward concerning the RMS Titanic. Even though I have read the above, I still found new details and kept saying to myself (and probably a couple times out loud) "I didn't know that". One of the fun new topics I learned about has led me to put The White Swan Hotel in Alnwick England on my list of places I must see when I travel along with Southampton and Belfast of course. The trove of trivia seemed bottomless for me but still my favorite part of this book was when I felt like I was being tapped on the shoulder to turn around and imagine seeing a hat tipped or a gloved hand being offered or a friendly welcoming smile of a passenger or crew member as they spoke from the pages and shared their experiences aboard the Titanic. It also became very hard not to shed a tear as those same voices spoke as the hours and minutes ticked down on that last cold night and early morning in April 1912. A book with this many depths of entertainment that not only brings the pages alive but is also a magnificent preservation of history is always welcome on my shelves. Highly Recommend.
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on 28 May 2013
This book deserved a far greater audience that it has gotten - who knows the problems behind the scenes - the book is now going for over 100 pounds in the UK and in the US never did carry it - the text is wonderful - told the story from different perspective than most - and it was very, well done - as for the photos and graphics - I think the crediting was done "fast and furious" with little regard where the original sources were - that's enough said on that fault - but, as I said, I've been into the Titanic since 1953 and have read almost every book on the "Titanic" - and this was one of the few originals out there that really held my interest - one of the best I've read in a long time - and it deserved far better as far as promotion and availability.
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on 20 August 2012
"On a Sea of Glass" owes its title to First Class passenger survivor, Archibald Gracie, who wrote in his own account of the sinking, "Sunday morning, April 14th, this marvelous ship...had, for three and one-half days, proceded on her way from Southampton to New York over a sea of glass". It's one of the many ironies of the story of the most famous disaster in maritime history that prior to 11:40 PM on that fateful Sunday night, the Titanic, and indeed the entire Edwardian world, had sailed on blissfully and confidently. That such a thing could happen on this literal, technological and sociological sea of glass, shocked and awakened the world to its vulnerability and hubris.

Authors Fitch, Kent Layton and Wormstedt draw upon a collective body of current knowledge about the Titanic never before woven together within the covers of one book. Their own decades of research, combined with the best, most accurate and most current research of their many colleagues in the world-wide Titanic community, give us the ultimate book on the subject.

Written chronologically, "On a Sea of Glass" takes the reader from inception, design and building to launching, sea trials and maiden voyage then to disaster and aftermath. Using every available resource with numerous excerpts from passenger and crew letters and accounts, the narrative is authoritative as well as fresh in many ways. Along the way, we're treated to a comprehensive and sometimes surprising collection of photographs and drawings, some never seen before and many in glorious colour. Footnoted and indexed, it also has an extensive number of appendices which both illuminate and unravel many of the contradictions which have surfaced through the years such as "Shots in the Dark: Did an Officer Commit Suicide on the Titanic?" and "The Music of the Titanic's Band". Interspersed within the chapters are also "sidebars", self-contained looks at some key questions that relate to that chapter's content.

There have been so many books published in the last 100 years on the sinking of the Titanic, and it is sometimes difficult for even the avid student to discern which ones are worth owning. "On a Sea of Glass" is one of them.
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on 11 April 2016
I'm writing this before I've actually read the book so my review is not of the content but of the physical book itself. My paperback copy arrived this morning and on opening it I find the print is so small I fear the accompanying magnifying glass was omitted from the package. I have perfect close-up vision (I wear spectacles for long distances only and never for reading) and even I cannot make out the deck plans at the back of the book which is a shame as I often refer to these when reading Titanic books (and I've read a few). On the other pages the font is so small that each page holds about 6 times the text that I would expect to find in any book. I will read this and am really excited to read it because I've heard such good things about it but I am disappointed at the minuscule font and I fear this will rather spoil my reading of this book.
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on 21 August 2012
This will probably be the shortest review of "On a Sea of Glass" that will appear on Amazon, because everything I wanted to say about the book appears in its Foreword (which I wrote.) To summarize, though, "On a Sea of Glass" is one of the best Titanic books that has ever been written - certainly among the top ten. Tad, Bill and Kent have done a magnificent job of bringing the Titanic and her people to life.

What more can I say? (Well, you can always read what I wrote in the Foreword.) :-)
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on 25 August 2012
Following the success of the James Cameron movie back in the late 1990s, so many Titanic books appeared that the market was saturated. In 2012, the centennial of her loss, a number of new books have appeared too. However, some of them add little to our knowledge: repeating information that is already widely known; quoting from modern sources and thereby repeating errors, rather than examining the material from 1912; or presenting implausible theories reliant on a fundamentally flawed presentation and analysis of the evidence.

This one is different. Containing much new material, it is well presented, well researched, well written and deserves a prominent place in the collection of anyone interested in the subject. The three authors have put together a masterpiece, by combining thorough and competent research with solid analysis and presentation.

A well deserved five stars!
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on 7 August 2012
Halfway through this right now, and the level of detail is exhausting. Superb. Quite a lot of new facts I hadn't known before and I have 200 Titanic books on the shelves. Amazing.
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on 6 April 2016
An excellent book. You can tell the authors put a lot of research into it. It really brings the Titanic story to life. Full of surprising little tid bits of information.
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