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
Branch Call Number: BCE
Characteristics: 10 books + reader's guide in a cloth bag
Alternative Title: Last crossing of the Lusitania

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From Library Staff

List - 20 Mile Book Club
DCLbookclubs Apr 03, 2017

August 2017.

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


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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.

l
leifericson
May 03, 2017

Excellent book! Easy to get into the story quickly. The story of the U boat itself was very interesting. Clarified a lot of information about WWI.

b
brobertb
Mar 26, 2017

Dead Wake was a very interesting book, a good lesson about the history of WWI, and a look into what travel was like long before airplanes were the standard. The chapters alternate back and forth from the perspective of both The Lusitania and U-20 that sank her, and vary in length, which made it easier to concentrate and remember different details.

AL_HANNAH Jan 05, 2017

Truly epic storytelling!

AL_LESLEY Nov 09, 2016

Erik Larson has a knack of giving even the driest historical facts a pulse racing fiction feel. The detail is extraordinary and the way he put all of the information together brings immense feeling to the book and the horrible gut wrenching knowledge that if only one out of a million things had been different, the whole thing may never have happened at all.

j
John_M
Sep 10, 2016

Fascinating insight into the days of luxury stream ships crossing the Atlantic prior to the USA entry into WWI. The book weaves through a number of viewpoints, the passengers, the captain, the commander of the U-boat and the president of the USA.

c
ctkvlk
Sep 10, 2016

Excellent, fascinating book. Cannot recommend it highly enough. It hasn't been on the bestseller book for nothing. History, human interest, drama, it has everything. Amazing that this story has not been more well-known. Now it is, thanks to Erik Larson.

s
SPSit
Aug 28, 2016

This book contains immense amount of details, clearly from exhaustive research. After reading it, the role of Churchill in the sinking of Lusitania, or not protecting passenger ships against submarines, was never pursued in the book. Perhaps there is enough blames to go around. Or perhaps the victor of World War I can write history.

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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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