Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

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From the 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.

Title : Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0307408868
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 430 pages


Jill rated it ★★★★★

May 31, 2016

When a new Erik Larson arrives, I drop everything and read it. In my book, he’s one of the few authors who can make history positively come alive. And his opening note held forth a big promise: “I give you now the saga of the Lusitania and the myriad forces, large and achingly small, that converg...

Jeffrey rated it ★★★★☆

December 09, 2017

”He saw the body of the torpedo moving well ahead of the wake, through water he described as being ‘a beautiful green.’ The torpedo ‘was covered with a silvery phosphorescence, you might term it, which was caused by the air escaping from the motors.’ He said, ‘It was a beautiful sight.’” The last...

Will rated it ★★★★☆

June 22, 2016

Dead Wake is named a 2015 notable non fiction book by the Washington Post The track lingered on the surface like a long pale scar. In maritime vernacular, the trail of fading disturbance, whether from ship or torpedo, was called a “dead wake.” On May 7, 1914, only a few years after that most fa...

Diane S ☔ rated it ★★★★☆

November 08, 2015

Larson writes wonderful narrative non fiction, and in this book he has surpassed his own self. The amount of research that went into this book is staggering. It doesn't just cover the bombing of the Lusitania, it covers everything going once at the time and more. What it is like inside a submarine...

Kemper rated it ★★★☆☆

January 14, 2016

This reminded me a lot of the movie Titantic not just because it’s about a disaster at sea, but also it would have been a lot shorter and better without the romantic subplot. Only in this case it was U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and Edith Bolling Galt instead of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winsle...

Matt rated it ★★★★★

April 26, 2016

When I came across a radio interview with Erik Larson, talking about his new Lusitania book, Dead Wake, I knew I had to have it. I was excited. Like, I’m going to buy this on my phone as soon as I park my car excited. As many of you know, I’m deep into a World War I reading project. I’ve collecte...

Dem rated it ★★★★☆

August 07, 2017

"The Devil is in the detail" and Erik Larson's Dead wake : The last crossing of the Lusitania is certainly packed full of detail but details that for me made this book such a worthwhile read. Living in Ireland I thought I was informed through history classes in school of the events surrounding...

Mona rated it ★★★☆☆

February 21, 2016

Excellent Retelling of the Sinking of the Lusitania I don't read a lot of nonfiction. But Erik Larson's books read like novels. He's an excellent writer. He choses historical events that contain a compelling story. He fills the books with details that bring the time, place, and people to life. He do...

Elyse rated it ★★★★★

February 23, 2016

Wow.... This is an all-embracing historical heartbreak story....a tragedy that could have been avoided. The seas were a war zone .. Right from the start, we learn that their were delays leaving New York...( America was not yet at war yet in May, 1915, against Germany). Red flag warnings were everyw...

Chrissie rated it ★★★☆☆

March 25, 2015

Stuffed with details. Are there too many? I continue. ****************************************** I feel guilty giving this book only three stars, but that reflects my honest reaction. It is interesting. It is accurate. It is extensively researched. It is about an event, the torpedo sinking of the Br...

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