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


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

Prepare to experience Titanic as you never have before …

This incredibly comprehensive volume was initially released in March of 2012. Co-authored by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton and Bill Wormstedt – three researchers with nearly a century’s worth of aggregate experience researching the subject – it revealed the history of the Titanic as no one had ever read it before.

It’s been said that if you’re stranded on a deserted island with just three Titanic books, On A Sea of Glass needs to be one of them.

The book’s initial release in the UK proved so popular that the first edition copies sold out in just a matter of months. A second edition was soon prepared, with a revised and corrected text, some new images, and a new hardback format; it went to press in June of 2013, and has now also sold out. The third edition of the book, in a softcover format, is now available. It is available directly from the publisher, from fine book retailers around the world, and in a limited-edition signed & numbered format directly through the authors at our partner retail site, TMB Studios.

If at this point, you are thinking that this is ‘just another Titanic book,’ remember that experienced Titanic researchers and enthusiasts have said that if you were stranded on a deserted island with just three Titanic books, On A Sea of Glass should be one of them. Please follow these hyperlinks for further information about what makes this book truly unique:

Watch the only authorized version of On a Sea of Glass ever made on YouTube!

In early 2021, On a Sea of Glass co-authors Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton, and Bill Wormstedt began collaborating with Tom Lynskey and HFX Studios to prepare an all-new animation of the Titanic disaster in real-time. It was initially shown on the 109th anniversary of the disaster in livestream format (available here), and this ‘historian edition’ was released later with a few improvements and different camera angles. on the 110th anniversary of the disaster, we were honored to have Titanic visual historian Ken Marschall join our livestream (which is available here).

… the HFX Studios animations are the only video versions authorized by and made to the specifications of the authors of On a Sea of Glass.

Other videos on YouTube and other streaming platforms have used the On a Sea of Glass name — without permission, we might add. However, the HFX Studios animations are the only video versions authorized by and made to the specifications of the authors of On a Sea of Glass.

Some eagle-eyed viewers might also recognize that some of the imagery in our latest book, Recreating Titanic and Her Sisters: A Visual History, were taken from the HFX Studios animation of the Titanic disaster. Please read more on that unique and very exciting full-color hardback book here.

Third Edition (Current Release) Details.

  • Full Title: “ON A SEA OF GLASS: THE LIFE & LOSS OF THE RMS TITANIC” by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton & Bill Wormstedt, with Introduction by George Behe
  • Amberley Books, June 15, 2015 (UK) (Third Edition)
  • Softcover
  • 440 pages + 16 pages in full color (total 456 pages)
  • ISBN: 9781445647012

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Digital Format Availability.

Download "On A Sea of Glass" on your favorite eReader platform.

Download “On A Sea of Glass” on your favorite eReader platform. For those of you who enjoy reading eBooks, On A Sea of Glass has been made available on all of the major electronic platforms.

We are pleased to announce that On a Sea of Glass has been made available on all of the major electronic book platforms.

Although the photographs in the digital version are necessarily smaller in size, they are all still present. Another tremendous advantage of the digital platform is that the book’s text is fully searchable, all endnotes are hyperlinked for direct back-and-forth reading, and the book’s appearance and the font size are even customizable.

Personally, we recommend the Kindle version of the book, because the hundreds of endnotes are hyperlinked for ease of reference without flipping back and forth across the pages, as you have to do with the print version.

Please follow these links to download the digital version of On A Sea of Glass on your favorite platform:

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A scholarly endeavor.


The records of the three formal inquiries – including the British Inquiry – into the sinking, as well as dozens of personal accounts, were all consulted in creating a thoroughly-documented, scholarly text. (Authors’ Collection)

Most books on the Titanic through the years have steered clear of a scholarly approach to telling the history of the legendary liner. Unfortunately this has allowed many errors to be perpetuated through the years, simply because many of these “facts” are considered “common knowledge” and get repeated in many other Titanic books. It has also allowed some authors too much leeway in presenting a single picture as fact, when other possibilities and interpretations are possible or probable. Other books take only a half-hearted stab at a scholarly approach, presenting token citations which give the appearance of respectable research, and which in some cases present only the evidence that supports the author’s/authors’ personal preconceptions.

The goal in producing this volume was to take nothing for granted, not to rely on conclusions made through generation after generation of re-tellings by various researchers and authors, some of whose “facts” are of dubious origin; emotional attachment to dearly-cherished and often-retold aspects of the disaster were cast aside in the light of the historical record.

Nearly every statement, paragraph, quote, conclusion or point made in this volume is backed up by an end note citation. In most cases, these present citations to first-hand accounts which are readily available to the public in their original form (in print or online) for study and contextual analysis. Other notes give detailed explanations of conclusions we drew from the historical record and which are contained in the narrative.

Comparing the scholarly standard of this publication to nearly all previous endeavors will show just how this volume stands out from the rest.

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The Narrative.

The primary portion of On A Sea of Glass is a narrative-style account of the history of the Titanic. It starts right at the beginning with the liner’s origins, and moves through design, construction, fitting out, trials and maiden voyage. This portion of the narrative delves into the stories of people who were connected with bringing the ship to life, and gives great perspective on the vessel as a success story rather than a tragic figure. Many rare or previously-untold stories of those who helped build the ship, or those who traveled upon her, are presented, making the narrative fresh and engaging.

The narrative next moves into the disaster which made the Titanic a legend. As with the previous portion of the book, much of this section deals with accounts not been previously utilized, carefully intertwining their stories with the facts presented by better-known survivors until a large-scale picture, unrealized in many books on the subject, emerges. The disaster is told chronologically, following historical figures as they dealt with the circumstances presented to them.

After the sinking, the story of the rescue of survivors by the Cunard liner Carpathia, their subsequent arrival in New York, the formal investigations into the disaster, and the history of the Titanic right up through the centennial anniversary … all are told in this compelling text. Although a scholarly presentation, the narrative is written to be an “engaging read” which will bring to life the human element of the story and place you as a reader on the deck of the Titanic during every phase of her short life.

Within the narrative, numerous sideboxes discuss subjects such as: was the Titanic‘s rudder too small? Were she and her sister Olympic switched in some sort of insurance-scam conspiracy? Was Titanic‘s maiden voyage to be Captain Smith’s final voyage? Did Captain Smith actually order the ship to turn “the corner” late? Who were the Titanic‘s bandsmen, and what did they likely play as the ship sank? From where did Titanic‘s band play during the disaster? Many of the answers to these questions will be surprising to even the most seasoned Titanic enthusiast.

For the Third Edition, the text of the book has been updated and revised to improve readibility, as some grammatical errors had escaped detection during the initial writing and editing process for the First Edition.

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The Appendices.

On A Sea of Glass presents a broad range of appendices on a variety of topics – frequently controversial – and deals with each, in turn, from a scholarly perspective:

  • Titanic‘s Technical Specifications & Some Common Misconceptions. – This appendix deals with some of the most important technical details of the Titanic‘s construction, and lays to rest a number of the oft-repeated technical “facts” concerning the ship. For example: was the Titanic built to a slip-shod manner to save expenses, a victim of corporate greed and skullduggery? Was it unusual for Titanic and her sister Olympic to be called “unsinkable”? And much more…
  • Southampton to Cherbourg. – Learn more about this least-documented and frequently misunderstood portion of Titanic‘s maiden voyage from a navigational / timing perspective.
  • The Question of Binoculars. – Did the lack of binoculars for the lookouts lead to the sinking of the ship?
  • What Time Is It? – An analysis of changes made to the Titanic‘s clocks during her maiden voyage.
  • Taking Evasive Action. – Did the evasive action taken actually lead to the Titanic‘s demise?
  • The Iceberg Damage. – A careful analysis of the damage to the Titanic.
  • The Duff Gordon Affair. – Roundly condemned in the court of public opinion following the disaster, what were the couple’s experiences in Boat No. 1, and was any criticism justified?
  • Incidents of Gunfire During the Sinking. – A careful examination of survivor reports of gunfire during the disaster turns up some fascinating conclusions.
  • The Loss of Titanic‘s Deck Crew Over Time. – A statistical analysis of the availability of trained seamen as the ship’s lifeboats were launched.
  • The Last Song. – A special guest appendix by George Behe studying survivor evidence on the final piece of music played by the band as the liner sank.
  • Shots in the Dark: Did an Officer Commit Suicide on the Titanic? – This appendix studies survivor evidence regarding the possibility that one of the ship’s officers killed himself as the disaster played out, with remarkable results.
  • Thomas Andrews’ Fate. – Andrews is almost universally portrayed as last seen in the First Class Smoking Room just minutes before the liner foundered … but is this the most accurate representation of the historical record? What was the last well-reported sighting of Andrews, and how does that fit in with other available evidence? A groundbreaking analysis.
  • Down With the Ship? Captain Smith’s Fate. – Where was Captain Smith last seen? What is the best evidence on his fate? What conclusions can we draw from the historical record?
  • The Breakup. – Long denied until the wreck’s discovery in 1985, this unprecedented analysis shows how the historical record was ignored for over seventy years, and takes a step-by-step forensic study of survivor evidence on the way that the breakup played out. This is the largest study of survivor evidence on the subject to date, and the picture they presented comes into focus for the first time.
  • J. “Brute” Ismay? – After the Titanic disaster, J. Bruce Ismay was to a large extent condemned by the public and press alike. But was his behavior during the design phase of the ship, during the maiden voyage, and through the sinking in any way unscrupulous or reprehensible? A balanced look at the evidence.
  • Buried At Sea. – How many bodies were buried at sea from the Carpathia?
  • Trapped Like Rats? – Portrayal after portrayal show Third Class passengers trapped behind locked gates, left to die and all but neglected … but is that an accurate portrayal of how events transpired that night?
  • The Californian Affair. – One of the most inflammatory controversies of the Titanic disaster is dealt with in a simple and straightforward manner. What does an unbiased approach to the historical record lead one to conclude?

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The Introduction.

George Behe, a previous Vice-President of the Titanic Historical Society, has kindly provided an Introduction for this volume. He also generously opened his collection and materials to our use through the project, and his assistance has been greatly appreciated.

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Visualizing Titanic.

In the course of this project, we have tapped numerous collectors from around the world, and many have been extremely generous with contributing materials for reproduction in On A Sea of Glass. As a result, the book is packed with over 400 photos and illustrations, including a full-color section comprised of over 50 images.


Titanic departs Belfast on her trials on the morning of April 2, 1912. (Authors’ Collection)

In placing these images, the idea was to match photos and illustrations that gave a visual description of what was described in the narrative as closely as possible. In effect the idea was to place you, the reader, in the moment being described.

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Availability & Ordering Information.

The Third Edition of this volume is available through retailers (such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, etc.), from the publishers directly, or through a variety of maritime museums and exhibits around the world.

Please also check the book store here, as we occasionally are able to offer copies of this book for sale direct from the authors in a signed & numbered limited-edition format!

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Third Edition preview spreads:

(Click for larger images)

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The first peer review of On A Sea of Glass went live on March 15, 2012. Click here to read it. Reader reviews of the First Edition have also been tremendously positive. Follow these links to a few surprise reviews of the book that were shared with us. None of these reviews were solicited, paid for, or given on a quid-pro-quo basis. Were were just as surprised to run across them as everyone else. Thank you all so much for your kind feedback on our hard work.

This review is by Anthony Cunningham. It was shared online with our official Facebook page for the book and we are thrilled to hear how much Anthony enjoyed it.

Notice also the following snippets of some written reviews that we have found:

  • “A chance to experience Titanic’s story like never before.” ~ Shipping Today and Yesterday.

  • “A must have book… a definitive source.” ~ Mike Poirier, Encyclopedia Titanica.

  • “… easily the best written book on the subject by some distance…” – A.V.

  • “Comprehensive,” yet “intimate” in feel – M.P.

  • “… the ultimate book on the subject…” – D.B.W.

  • “It would be difficult to be too extravagant in praise of this book. … [It is] comprehensive … I doubt that anyone in the foreseeable future is likely to match, let alone exceed, the quality of this book on this subject.” – B.T.

  • “Superb. Quite a lot of new facts I hadn’t known before and I have 200 Titanic books on the shelves. Amazing.” – N.B.

    Please note that although we do not have control over the format of the book (including page size, hardback/softback issues, print size, etc.) we as the book’s authors work closely with the publisher to try to follow through on any and all suggestions that we have received. It would also be fantastic if you could take a moment to drop the publisher a line yourself with your suggestions.

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