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

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

by Terri Bey

Before I begin with this book review, I apologize for not including the authors' names in the title of this blog, as there was a title character limit. I apologize to my readers and to the authors.

I just finished the book, "On a Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic" by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton, and Bill Wormstedt, which features an introduction by noted Titanic Author George Behe. The book is a comprehensive study of the RMS Titanic from her creation to her tragic demise, after striking an iceberg on that fateful April night, and beyond. "On a Sea of Glass" also delves into the rescue of the passengers by the Cunard Liner RMS Carpathia and into the post-disaster inquiries in both New York and London. The reader can read more details in the appendices, as well.

I totally and wholeheartedly recommend this book. If there were such a thing as a "mandatory" book for Titanic enthusiasts or even ship enthusiasts in general, "On a Sea of Glass" would be it. This book is as detailed and as comprehensive a book about the RMS Titanic as a reader, historian and researcher would want. What I was most impressed with was the details about what happened at each lifeboat, and the maps that were included. One map in particular that stood out was demonstrating the time that each lifeboat left and which officer was taking care of which lifeboat at that particular time. There was another map that dealt with how many crewmen were in each boat.

I loved the authors' inclusion of the passengers' experiences during the entire voyage. The reader would read about the passengers when the voyage began, and then the reader gets to read what happens to the passengers during the sinking, etc. There was one story that I found sad, in particular. The first boat to leave the ship, Lifeboat #7, was only partially filled with 28 people in a boat built for 65. According to the book, Colonel John Jacob Astor and his bride, Madaleine were going to go into the boat. However, per survivor and Lifeboat #7 occupant William Sloper, Colonel Astor held his bride back and someone said something into Colonel Astor's ear, and he and his bride did not enter the boat. Sadly, that was a fatal mistake by Colonel Astor, as his bride escaped in Lifeboat #4, but Second Officer Charles Lightoller, because of his ultra-strict interpretation of the "Women and Children First" rule, would not allow Colonel Astor to join his wife, and Astor perished.

What was especially eye-opening for me was the appendices. The appendices discussed various subjects, such as the Californian Affair, White Star Line General Manager J. Bruce Ismay's being berated by the press for surviving and for supposedly being responsible, and many other topics. One topic that got my attention was the break-up of the RMS Titanic when she sank. For 73 years, until she was found in 1985 by Dr. Robert Ballard and the French Team IFREMER, the accepted "truth" was that the RMS Titanic sank in one piece. Second Officer Charles H. Lightoller said it. Many historians said it. In this appendix concerning the breakup, there is a list of about 15-20 passengers who gave testimony that either heavily IMPLIED or directly STATED that the liner broke up on the surface, before sinking. These passengers used the same words, such as, "explosion," "rattling," "noise," etc. I had a hard time understanding why these passengers' statements had been completely ignored for over 70 years before the wreck was found.

In conclusion, "On a Sea of Glass" is an outstanding book on the RMS Titanic. Messrs Fitch, Layton, and Wormstedt have written a masterpiece for generations of future Titanic enthusiasts.

Buy the book at: On a Sea of Glass: The Life and Loss of the RMS Titanic eBook: Fitch, Tad, J.Kent Layton, Bill Wormstedt, Behe, George: Kindle Store

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