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Book Review

‘Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania’

4/22/2015

Erik Larson, one of the most popular history authors writing today, has picked the sinking of the Lusitania as his next study. The centennial of the Great War began last year, so the examination of the events that drew America into the war is very timely.

By Erik Larson Crown Publishing Group (NY) March 10, 2015 Hardcover $28 448 Pages Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

By Erik Larson
Crown Publishing Group (NY)
March 10, 2015
Hardcover $28
448 Pages
Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

As is his style, Larson has paired two events in the same book. At the time of the sinking of the Lusitania, President Woodrow Wilson was finding his way through the grief of losing his wife. He has met, and is pursuing, an interest in the widow Edith Boling Galt, a woman he met through Helen Bones, his cousin and proxy First Lady at the White House.

As the story opens, the Germans had provided warnings that passenger ships were in peril on the open seas, although many dismissed these warnings. Actions and inactions from that point forward doomed the Lusitania to its eventual sinking. Larson tells of the events from before the launch to the aftermath of the sinking by alternating the narrative from aboard the Lusitania captained by William Thomas Turner to aboard the German submarine, U-20, captained by Walther Schwieger.

The personal details of the passengers and crew give the story an immediacy that works well. Larson has covered many significant historical events in the past, each in a very entertaining fashion. While it is difficult to call the history of the sinking of the Lusitania entertaining, he has provided an account replete with characters and details that are engaging and educational as well. CV

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Harriet Leitch retired to enjoy her grandchildren, garden, dogs, flute and to return to her love of books.

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