Dead Wake

Dead Wake

The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Book - 2014
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds"--the fastest liner then in service--and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot -20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger's U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small--hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more--all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don't, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.
Publisher: New York :, Crown Publishers,, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780307408860
Branch Call Number: 940.45 L329d
Characteristics: 430 pages
Alternative Title: Last crossing of the Lusitania


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Aug 15, 2018

It gives you a "game board" style lay out, and then adds the political angle of the time between all the players of WWI. It also introduces you to Room 40. What is room 40? Can't tell you. read it and find out.

ArapahoeApril Jul 18, 2018

Erik Larson is a true storyteller. He manages to make a non-fiction book read as if it were unbelievable and it were a piece of fiction. You'll learn so much about WWII, U-boats and the Lusitania and it won't even feel like learning. This was a very fascinating read with a great narrative structure.

Jun 20, 2018

March 29 2015
Erik Larson knows how to transform history into a compelling story. Thanks to his extensive research and inclusion of first-hand accounts, personal letters and diaries, the reader is transported back in time and boards the Lusitania for its last tragic trans-Atlantic crossing. NC

May 03, 2018

This book was slow at first, read like a textbook at the beginning. However sticking with the novel was well worth it! Once mid way through you become invested in the people’s lives on the ship, as well as amazed at the small value of those lives to the war generals and politicians during WWI.

Apr 21, 2018

Loved it. Although we know the end of the story before reading the book, Erik Larson weaves a fascinating, fast-paced telling of the background. Well worthwhile.

Mar 16, 2018

I am a big fan of Larson's writing and he brings the technological, (submarine, torpedo description), intrigue, (Room 40), suspense/chase (Schweiger's u boat) political, romance and
historical personalities together in this books. I would be interested in other historians' accounts and conclusions.

Feb 27, 2018

I've read most of Larson's other work, and it was excellent. This was no different. His writing was so good, I could actually picture myself on the ship, or in the submarine.

Nov 01, 2017

A very entertaining non-fictional account of the sinking of the Lusitania. I also read "In the Garden of Beasts" another well written non-fiction account of life in Nazi Germany. I would recommend both books if you are a history buff.

Oct 17, 2017

Really enjoyed this book! Easy to read with lots of facts. Travel in the days of steam ships crossing the Atlantic with a 'Marconi room' for communications. The book alternates between the passengers, crew, the U-20 and the President Wilson. The description of the sinking itself was excellent. Recommended reading.

Sep 13, 2017

The book has strengths and weaknesses.
--- Presents solid evidence that Churchill let the LUSITANIA be torpedoed and sunk, killing 1198, when he could easily have saved it with a destroyer escort, because he wanted a disaster that would draw the US into the War. (For decades, the British government falsely denied the LUSITANIA was carrying munitions, and still withholds records about the ship.)
--- The torpedo attack, sinking, and fates of the passengers are interesting when Larson finally gets to them.
--- Dwells tediously on needless tabloid details, including President Wilson's love-sick longings.
--- Should not be taken as explaining the origin of WW1, which Larson, in his rush to novelize history, probably does not understand. He badly understates the importance of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who would soon have succeeded the aged Austrian emperor. Serbia, an Allied power, assassinated F.F. to trigger a war that would dismember the Austro-Hungarian Empire -- which is exactly what followed. Post-war Serbia, enlarged with Austro-Hungarian land, placed a monument to the assassin.
--- The Versailles Treaty, co-authored by Wilson, made the German/Austrian side accept sole blame for starting the War. This injustice opened the door to Hitler's rise. The victors said Austria should not have retaliated for the assassination; but they themselves had often launched wars over far less.
--- Larson ignores all this.

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Feb 17, 2016

A riveting account of how the Luisitania was sunk by the Nazis, what happened to the crew and the passengers, and how this event forced the U.S. into WWI.

Apr 20, 2015

A compelling read. Larson is a master of relating history in an engrossing fashion. Surprising to learn how various circumstances and events, deliberate and by chance, converged in one moment that resulted in this epic disaster.

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