Dead Wake

Dead Wake

The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Book Club Kit - 2015
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On May 1, 1915, 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 anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds" 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. He knew, moreover, that his ship -- the fastest then in service -- could outrun any threat. 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.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, [2015]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780804194617
0804194610
9780307408877
0307408876
9780307408860
0307408868
9780553446753
Characteristics: 10 books + reader's guide in a cloth bag
Alternative Title: Last crossing of the Lusitania
Call Number: BCE

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Opinion

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List - Daytime Book Group
DCLbookclubs Sep 14, 2016

This title was discussed June 5, 2018.

A nonfiction account of extraordinary detail and fascinating insight into the final voyage of the Lusitania.


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n
natcin7
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

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LibrarianVJ
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.

b
books3819
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.

o
orange_lobster_23
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.

k
kimh454
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.

j
jaybird443
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.

a
ALB126
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.

a
AQUILEA777
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.

o
OllPuff9
Jul 25, 2017

LOVED it. In fact, I have loved all of Larson's books EXCEPT "Thunderstruck" because the science of the wireless telegraph was simply too dull and tedious to get through. Almost reads like a suspense novel as the submarine hunts for the ship. I also found the technology of WWI interesting; WWI for my generation of Baby Boomers is somewhat of a "forgotten war" since neither our parents or grandparents were old enough to relate any stories about it.

m
megan234
Jul 09, 2017

While I generally enjoy all of Erik Larson's books, this one was a dismal failure. He has had the gift of building suspense of the kind you get in a good novel, even while you know the outcome. However, the last two of his books, this one and In the Garden of the Beasts, have completely missed the mark. I struggled to get through Dead Wake, as the details about how WWI-era submarines and torpedoes work was, frankly, dull. This goes for the Room 40 sections and even the back stories of the Lusitania passengers and descriptions of the interior of the ship. This surprised me as I generally am quite interested in the people and the way things looked. I have to put it down to uninspired writing this time. The portion describing Wilson's despair at the death of his wife and his subsequent romance kept me going, but I have to confess I skipped ahead to find out what happened as the portions in between were just dry as dust. The best, and most fascinating, bit was the sinking itself, but that is the very end of the book. Frankly, you could skip the majority of the book and just read the last couple of chapters and get as much out of it as if you slogged through the first 200 pages. A great disappointment. Better to read Issac's Storm, Thunderstruck, and Devil the White City. Having read all his historical non-fiction, I have to say that Issac's Storm, his first, and the sections regarding the World's Fair in Devil in the White City, are his best work. It is really beginning to look like he has lost the gift to make historical fact read like fiction.

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a
AnnieMargie
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.

c
cknightkc
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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