Confession: if there’s a nonfiction book about a manmade disaster, especially a shipwreck, I am going to read it. The fact that this one was written by Erik Larson, who also wrote the amazing “Devil in the White City”, was just a bonus.
“Dead Wake” follows the final crossing of the Lusitania, a civilian ship famously sunk by a German U-Boat off the coast of Ireland in 1915 during World War I. Larson does an amazing job following different people, from the captain to one of the crew to the passengers, as they prepared for and embarked on the fateful journey. Each story makes a unique contribution to the whole tale of the Lusitania.
This well-researched tale also presents many interesting facts surrounding the Lusitania’s demise, including that British intelligence knew there was a U-Boat in the area and neglected to alert the ship, the German threat to take down the Lusitania once it entered British waters printed in the New York papers, and the fact that some members of the British admiralty actually hoped the Lusitania would be sunk because it would galvanize the United States to enter the war on the side of Great Britain. Then, the author asks a question. Was everything possible done to prevent civilian casualties? Or was there a certain neglect that led to so many people dying?
Did “Dead Wake” turn me into a raging conspiracy theorist for days after I finished reading it? Yes, but it was an amazing look at a disaster that is oftentimes forgotten. If you adored the movie Titanic, but were especially fascinated by the second half (once the ship began to sink – spoiler alert!), this is a book you will devour.
You can put “Dead Wake” on hold in our catalog right now. If you have to wait, be sure to check out “You Might Also Like These…” at the bottom of the book’s catalog page.