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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

"Larson is one of the best narrative historians and this book brings the tragedy of the sinking of the liner Lusitania home in compelling ways. He keeps a tally of who is who in this drama and fills the pages with important details, from Captain Turner, the flawed and quietly brave commander of the doomed ship, to Captain Schweiger, the U boat commander who killed so many. There is also an insight into the common passengers and the variety of lives that were being led - from families to individual people - before the destruction of the ship. Larson includes detail illustrating why the British Admiralty was so keen on blaming Captain Turner for the sinking - it turns out that they had their own secrets to keep. Contrary to popular belief, the sinking of the Lusitania did not draw America into the conflict in Europe - that would take another two years and an invertebrate telegram sent to the Mexican embassy. This is a detailed and informative read that is unforgettable."

— Raul

“Despite knowing how the doomed Lusitania’s story ultimately ends, the tense build up to the big event is fantastic. The alternating story lines and points of view –  the passengers & crew, the German U-boat captain, President Woodrow Wilson, British code breakers & Admiralty, and major events on the European front – finally all tragically and dramatically converge. It’s really astounding how a sequence of small, some seemingly insignificant, events potentially led to the ship’s doom. There is so much ground to cover and Larson covers the bulk of it with a quick storytelling pace and emotional punch. A page turner!”

— Ellen

March '15 Indie Next List

“With the taut storytelling form that is Larson's trademark, Dead Wake recounts the tragedy of the sinking of the passenger ocean liner Lusitania. The torpedoing of a passenger liner by a German submarine shocked and horrified the world and served to mobilize American popular opinion in favor of entering World War I. Larson carefully sets the stage for the tragedy, and with dramatic effect recreates the tension of the chase, the horror of the attack, and the tragic aftermath. Dead Wake pulls the reader in and evokes a visceral response of outrage and sadness -- the same response most Americans had upon first hearing the news in 1915.”
— Jon Grand, The Book Stall At Chestnut, Winnetka, IL


#1 New York Times Bestseller
From thebestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, 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 surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic Greyhounds the fastest liner then in service 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.
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.
It is a story that many of us think we know but don t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.
Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

About the Author

Erik Larsonis the author of five national bestsellers, including The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts, which have collectively sold more than 6.5 million copies. His books have been published in seventeen countries."

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780307408860
ISBN-10: 0307408868
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Publication Date: March 10th, 2015
Pages: 448
Language: English