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A very good telling of the sinking as well as the way people were back then. A bit slow during the first 50, or so pages. Once it sails from NYC the tale picks up. The nagging question of what the Admiralty will do - or won't do - propels the tale along. You definitely end up with a fuller understanding of the times, the politics, and why we finally entered WW1.
Another great read from Erik Larson. The detailed descriptions of time and place make you feel as though you are strolling among all the passengers aboard the doomed Lusitania. Considering we know how it ends, he creates lots of suspense as we wonder who will survive the tragedy. Highly recommend.
This book was a good choice for me to read as it told me more about the events that lead up to the sinking of the Lusitania in WWI. I liked the detail that was included about how the Admiralty of Britain was handling the U-boat threats and what actions they took. I also liked the accounts of passengers that were traveling on the Lusitania and how they felt about the Germans' warning of sinking the Lusitania. After reading this book, I feel more informed about the sinking of the Lusitania.
I didn't know much of anything about the Lusitania so reading this book was enlightening. An extremely well researched book that includes the psyche of the world as it enters WWI and how the Lusitania was basically allowed to be torpedoed. It included Pres Wilson, the Ship's Captain and the Admiralty of UK plus assorted passengers from the ship. The detail is amazing on each of theses entities. History comes alive while reading this book!
"Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania" by Erik Larson is an historical account of the sinking of the most prominent ocean liner of its time. Everyone knows that a German submarine fired a torpedo and brought the U.S. into the First World War. However, it did not. The ship sank. The U.S. stayed neutral for two more years. I found this the most surprising fact. The sinking was an outrage. It became the pre-imminent outrage. Just not the outrage that precipitated the U.S. into joining the Allies. A surprising fact, for me.
I loved this book, Larson's writing style is brilliant. I read it in 2 days. 5 stars
The details, from U-boot technicalities to passenger anecdotes, arrested my attention throughout, and would be mundane or tedious if delivered by other writers.
I was awestruck by the movie Titanic, which is now dwarfed by my experiencing (through reading) the last crossing of the Lusitania, in addition, I was let in the secret chamber of nations' leaders and war intelligence, and guided to oversee the international power play during the war.
The chapters are ordered in the form of two (boat) targets converging, added in narratives of US headquarter alternating with UK, thus created a highly suspenseful effect, also made me follow many survivors/victims journey with zest.
More than a simple exhilaration, that I care less about the historical coverage being absolute true and complete.
I knew very little about this historical event. The beginning of the book is slow but the need for the technical background becomes apparent as the story progresses. As others have mentioned, I am not sure why President's Wilson's love life took so much space in this book. Nevertheless this is a compelling read and provides the amateur historian with some shocking details underpinning the developments in WWI.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Truly epic storytelling!