[KINDLE] ❄ Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania By Erik Larson – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk

From The New York Times Bestselling Author And Master Of Narrative Nonfiction Comes The Enthralling Story Of The Sinking Of The LusitaniaOn May 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, Over, 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 , Was Happy To Oblige Meanwhile, An Ultra Secret British Intelligence Unit Tracked Schwieger S U Boat, But Told No One As U 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 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, Mystery, And Real Life Suspense, Dead Wake Brings To Life A Cast Of Evocative Characters, From Famed Boston Bookseller Charles Lauriat To Pioneering Female Architect Theodate Pope Riddle To President 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 That Helped Place America On The Road To War


10 thoughts on “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

  1. says:

    When a new Erik Larson arrives, I drop everything and read it In my book, he s one of the few authors who can make history positively come alive And his opening note held forth a big promise I give you now the saga of the Lusitania and the myriad forces, large and achingly small, that converged one lovely day in May 1915 to produce a tragedy of monumental scale, whose true character and import have long been obscured in the mists of history My first thought was WHAT true character and import Everyone knows about the Lusitania sunk by a U 2 torpedo and finally propelling America head first into WW I Well, after finishing, I stand corrected The story of the Lusitania still offers up many secrets.Unlike Mr Larson s former books, this one is slow opening The focus is not an individual as it is in Isaac s Storm, the Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck and In The Garden of Beasts, with history as a backdrop , but squarely on the story of the Lusitania So the first 80 pages or so set the stage the winds of war in Europe, the background of the Lusitania and its captain, William Thomas Turner.But when the Lusitania begins its voyage Wow Nearly 2,000 passengers were aboard and also, 170 tons of Remington rifle ammunition, making it a clear and attractive target to the Germans The passengers were not unaware that U 2 boats were bringing terror to the North Atlantic seas We meet several of them throughout these pages the ones who will live, the ones who will die And we also catch many glimpses of the U.S president, Woodrow Wilson, a widower who is distracted by a new and ultimately, enduring love affair that diverts his attention from the world stage.The book is filled with questions worth asking why did the Admiralty not provide an escort to the Lusitania, given that the ship carried a vital cargo of ammunition and artillery shells Why did British intelligence obsessively protect the HMS Orion and provide no protection to the Lusitania Why did they not divert he Lusitania to the newer and safer North Channel route And most of all, why was the ship left on its own, with a proven killer of men and ships dead ahead in its path Did the British deliberately set up the Lusitania to force America s hand to enter the war Hanging over the story of the Lusitania is its rendezvous with destiny Had U 2 captain Schwieger not overestimated the ship s speed, if the Lusitania had departed precisely on time, if Capt Turner had not made a final turn to starboard, had the torpedo failed 60 percent of torpedoes DID fail , there would not be a Lusitania story And one last question remains did the Lusitania, in fact, cause the U.S to enter the war or was there to the story Read Dead Wake and find out


  2. says:

    He saw the body of the torpedo moving well ahead of the wake, through water he described as being a beautiful green The torpedo was covered with a silvery phosphorescence, you might term it, which was caused by the air escaping from the motors He said, It was a beautiful sight The last known photo of the Lusitania.The term unsinkable had been obliterated from references regarding great ocean liners after the Titanic sunk in 1912 The impossible had already happened In 1915 the Lusitania had made 202 voyages across the Atlantic She was a floating beauty, spacious, luxurious, and fast She was capable of 25 knots and could quickly leave behind any German U boats who may have had thoughts of trying to sink her Captain William Thomas Turner was not too worried about the Germans, despite the increase in the number of ships being sunk He couldn t fathom that they would be so bold or so cruel as to sink a ship filled with women and children There had to be some niggling doubt though when the Germans sent a telegram warning people to reconsider taking trips across the Atlantic Captain William Thomas Turner in that fateful year 1915.I was somewhat baffled at the number of people still choosing to travel through an aggressive war zone We ve all heard the adage all is fair in love and war, but in the past there had always been a few rules in war regarding innocent people Walther Schwieger, the captain of the Unterseeboot 20, didn t adhere to any rules except the rule of engagement His country was at war with the British, and a ship owned by the British, whether it was transporting supplies for the war effort or transporting noncombatants, was of equal interest to him He, after all, was competing with his fellow U Boat captains to see who could sink the most tonnage Well, the Lusitania, at 31,550 tons, would put him over the top Walther SchwiegerSome people had booked passage, but had decided at the last moment not to go Alta Piper, the daughter of the famous medium, never made it aboard neither did she refund her ticket Unable to ignore the night s voices, but also apparently unable to step forth and just cancel, she chose the path taken by indecisive people throughout history and spent the morning of departure packing and repacking her bags, over and over, letting the clock run out, until at last she heard the distant horn marking the ship s departure I have a feeling she had an insistent tingle in the back of her neck Erik Larson does a wonderful job introducing us to the passengers My favorite was Charles Lauriat, an antiquarian bookseller, who talked a client into letting him borrow Charles Dicken s very own copy of A Christmas Carol with notes from the great writer about a lawsuit he was fighting in the margins He wanted to take it to London to allow another researcher to copy down Dicken s notes This might be the ultimate example, exhibit A, in NOT letting a friend borrow a book There was also Theodate Pope, the famous pioneering architect, who managed to break into a profession completely dominated by men Because they survived, Larson is able to share with us some very personal observations of what happened before, during, and after the torpedo struck the ship Part of the problem is there was 1,959 passengers and crew on board, and the ship sank in 18 minutes How much time is lost while you decide if the ship is actually going to sink It was dumb luck that Schwieger happened to place the torpedo in the exact spot to insure that the ship would go down Pandemonium ensued 1,195 perished Lots of questions were asked after the event The picking up of extra, as it turned out very unlucky, passengers from another ship delayed their departure and increased the risk of U Boats having time to get into position The black smoke poured from only three of the four funnels, which cut the speed of the ship from 25 knots to 21 knots, but saved 1600 tons of coal, a money saving decision made by Cunard due to fewer people risking the trip than normal This reduction in engines also added a day of travel Turner did not use a zigzag motion once he reached U Boat infested waters The biggest question which didn t receive enough attention or consideration was where was the Royal Navy They should have been escorting the liner once it was this close to the Irish coast Change one thing and the Lusitania would not have sunk on this trip.Turner came under heavy criticism, even from Winston Churchill himself, but was eventually cleared of all wrongdoings Schwieger, if he felt any remorse for killing so many innocent people, never shared it He did sink the most tonnage so bully for him I hope he got a f king plaque.I, for many years, like many Americans, thought that the sinking of the Lusitania was the impetus for getting America in the war America did not enter the war for another two years The reason given, other than the moral reasons for coming to the defense of our cousins in Britain, was the famous Zimmermann telegram Larson also threads through the plot the trials and tribulations of Woodrow Wilson as he tries to convince Edith Bolling Galt to marry him You would think the poor woman wore bacon underwear the way he convorted after her So many things had to go wrong for the Lusitania to come under the cold, calculating eyes of Schwieger and the gunsights of U Boat 20 All of them lined up, even the final blow when Turner shifted directions at the perfect moment to give Schwieger the angle he needed It is a compelling story told by a veteran writer who knows how to pace and weave a story that, even when you know the outcome, you can t help but throw your bag together, hop up the gangplank, and marvel at the devil in the details The wreck of the Lusitania at the bottom of the ocean.If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  3. says:

    Dead Wake is named a 2015 notable non fiction book by the Washington Post The track lingered on the surface like a long pale scar In maritime vernacular, the trail of fading disturbance, whether from ship or torpedo, was called a dead wake On May 7, 1914, only a few years after that most famous of ocean liners had had an unfortunate encounter with an iceberg on its maiden voyage, RMS Lusitania, popularly referred to as Lucy, having already crossed the Atlantic dozens of times, this time carrying 1,962 souls, was sunk by a German U boat off the Irish coast Almost 1200 people perished Erik Larson casts his perceptive eyes on the event, looking for explanations Why was the ship sunk Had it been possible for the ship to have avoided its fate What were the global circumstances at the time and how did those effect the disaster Who and what was on the ship Why What was the big deal about the Lusitania Other ships had been sunk by U boats during this conflict How did the sinking of the Lusitania affect American entry into The Great War The New York Times headline From PBS We all have preconceptions, notions that hardly seem worth examining I expect for most of us, the details of the sinking of the Lusitania are clouded by the fog of time We might believe that, as with the sinking of the USS Maine in Cuba, the national response was immediate and violent Turns out the reality was far different Artist rendering of the sinking from Cinewiki.wikispaces.comLarson looks at events in several threads Mostly he follows the events on the Lusitania and on the German sub U 20 U boat is an abbreviation of Unterseeboot, or undersea boat that would bring it down In parallel, he looks at the politics involved in, not so much the causes of World War I, but in the stages between the commencement of hostilities and the eventual drawing of the USA into the war He looks at the milieu in which American president Woodrow Wilson existed, politically and personally He looks at the people involved in making tactical decisions, and at a special, secret intelligence gathering location in the UK He stops, also, for a look at the sad accumulation of the victims in Ireland.Larson offers a view of the Lusitania that might not be obvious to those of us looking back a hundred years We might, for example, think of it as a relatively slow moving ocean liner, but it was the fastest civilian ship of its time Its exceptional speed was a major selling point There is plenty detail about the ship, the different sorts of lifeboats, with their potential benefits and downsides, the unusual hull it used Lucy carried a relatively inexperienced crew, due to so many able bodied seamen having been drawn into the military New, unusual life vests were used on the ship, and training in their use was lacking, as was training in using the lifeboats The sinking was used for recruiting in Britain and the USAOn the other side, it is remarkable how fragile U boats were, and the limitations they faced in pursuing their mission Larson offers us a look aboard the sub that did the deed, captain s log and all How fast were these boats What was their range What was their mission, their command structure What was the physical environment like for submariners What could they not do Where could they not go How did they keep in touch with their land based command What were their orders What was the mindset of the captain, of his crew Lots to look at here, eye opening stuff Don t sign me up for life on a sub The wrecked U 20 after a failed attempt to scuttle from Lusitania.netAnd of course there was the interaction between militaries How did the allies cope with the very effective plague the U boats presented Could they track them If so, how did they track them What were the capabilities of the super secret Room 40 What was the decision process the German command used in deciding how to use this powerful weapon Room 40 from Lusitania.netOne thing Larson does is follow the narrative of several of the passengers aboard the big boat This brings the disaster away from technical details to actual human experience You will get to know some of the passengers, and learn their fates.There is a wealth of information in Dead Wake For example, the biggest surprise for most readers, and perhaps the most controversial element in the book is the suggestion that Britain did not exactly do all it might have to protect Lucy from enemy attack, as there were some at the highest levels of government who believed that such an event might hasten the enlistment of the USA into the war There were other factors for sure that contributed to why Lucy was where she was when she was, but most of those lack the bitter flavor of dark calculation And maintaining the sour taste is a description of how shameless members of the admiralty sought to evade personal responsibility for the sinking by pointing fingers at a designated patsy Despite the denials all around that the Lusitania was purely a civilian ship, the fact was that it was carrying a considerable supply of military materiel for use against Germany Lucy would most definitely have had some splaining to do had it been known that supposedly neutral America was using her as a military transport to support the Allies Erik Larson from New Hampshire Public RadioThere is plenty of drama to go around here Even though we know what will happen, Larson succeeds in instilling tension into the coming together of Lucy with her killer The descriptions of life aboard the sub are compelling information about the physical realities of the Lusitania is fascinating, and looking at the probable decision making involved is enraging This is not to say that there are no rents in the hull taking on a bit of the briny While it seemed clear that tracking individual passengers was intended to take the story from an emotionally removed overview down a bit closer to sea level, I found that most of these passages were not all that engaging It also seemed not entirely clear that Woodrow Wilson s domestic situation was necessarily all that important in his reluctance to bring the USA into the war.On the other hand there are bits that are depressingly resonant with contemporary outrages, as left hands not keeping right hands informed of their actions contributed to the ultimate catastrophe Information that could have identified a sub in a shipping lane was available, but was not put together in time Very reminiscent of 9 11 Our species certainly seems well practiced in learning nothing from history One contributing factor was a corporate cost cutting measure that kept Lucy from making her best time across the Atlantic Had she been allowed to use all four of her boilers instead of only three, she would never have encountered U 20 The Deepwater Horizon disaster, and many such incidents remind us that pursuit of the almighty dollar pound euro insert your currency here will always be assigned a higher value than human life or the safety of the environment for many of the people making such decisions President Wilson and First Lord of the Admiralty Winston ChurchillGermany actually posted newspaper notices in American newspapers, before the Lusitania set sail from New York City, that all ships entering what was considered a war zone were at risk of being sunk It would not be the last time clear messages of intent from Germany would be ignored to our everlasting regret Dead Wake is a wonderful piece of writing, not only diving down into details of what is probably a murky subject for most of us, offering a greater understanding of the physical event, but providing a context within which we can achieve a greater understanding of the causes and implications of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania As a bit of historical reporting is it definitely a case of Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead Review originally posted 7 3 15Publication dates 3 10 15 hardcover 3 22 16 paperback EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, Twitter and FB pagesLusitania Online is a wonderful source for all things LucyVideo from the National Archives of passengers arriving and Lucy embarking on its final voyage the first 1 50 is mostly people getting out of cars, so feel free to skip ahead a bitA 1918 animation of the sinking Arthur Conan Doyle s story Danger was written about 18 months before the outbreak of WWI It anticipated in considerable detail the submarine warfare to come You can read it on Gutenberg In the preface to the 1918 collection in which it appears, Doyle noted that he attempted to present his notions to the government, noting that he did indeed adopt every possible method, that he personally approached leading naval men and powerful editors, that he sent three separate minutes upon the danger to various public bodies, notably to the Committee for National Defence, and that he touched upon the matter in an article in The Fortnightly Review In some unfortunate way subjects of national welfare are in this country continually subordinated to party politics, so that a self evident proposition, such as the danger of a nation being fed from without, is waved aside and ignored, because it will not fit in with some general political shibboleth If this reminds you at all of Bill Clinton and Richard Clarke trying to warn the incoming Bush administration of the danger presented by Osama bin Laden, it should.Other Erik Larson books I have read 2003 The Devil in the White City 2006 Thunderstruck 2011 In the Garden of Beasts 2017 Isaac s Storm not reviewed


  4. says:

    Larson writes wonderful narrative non fiction, and in this book he has surpassed his own self The amount of research that went into this book is staggering It doesn t just cover the bombing of the Lusitania, it covers everything going once at the time and .What it is like inside a submarine, the roles of the crew members, how it feels and even how it smells president Wilson s grief at the death of his wife and his courting of his second wife The career of the Captain of the Lusitania and the quirks in his personality What the ship looked like, inside and out, the decorations, the food, the labor involved The passengers, the famous and those not The politics of the day, what secrets were known when and how It is extraordinarily detailed but I was never bored, found it all fascinating So much history set down for me to enjoy.There is only one Larson book I was not crazy about, that one remains half finished, but this is an author whose books I buy to reread and savor By the end of the book, I had a clear and concise picture of so many things I had never knew before Also had gotten to know some of the people on the ship and was devastated that some of them were the ones who died A horrible tragedy bought to life, to be remembered and learned from, if only Amazing.


  5. says:

    This reminded me a lot of the movie Titantic not just because it s about a disaster at sea, but also it would have been a lot shorter and better without the romantic subplot Only in this case it was U.S President Woodrow Wilson and Edith Bolling Galt instead of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet Although I gotta admit that the scene when ole Woody sketched Edith in the nude was pretty hot..Wait I might have mixed something up there.This is part of the continuing trend of Erik Larson s books for me He has this weird knack of being able to write something that is about 50% interesting, but the other 50% always seems like it s him stretching to tie some other kind of element to give it a hook it doesn t really need He can t just tell us the story behind the 1893 World s Fair, he has to make half the book about a serial killer Some people would tell you that it s vice versa as to what s good about that one Or instead of doing a non fiction pop history novel about the invention of the wireless by Marconi, he had to tie it into the capture of a famous murderer of the day Giving a day to day account of living in Nazi Germany wasn t good enough so he had to put half the focus on a promiscuous American woman and her boring father in Berlin.So this time out we ve got the sinking of the Lusitania, a fascinating historical event about which many intriguing questions remain to this day, and yet a good chunk of this book is spent detailing how President Wilson found love again after the death of his first wife If this was a book about Wilson, or if it was some kind of deep dive into his response to the attack where knowing his mindset at the time is critical to the story, then I might understand why so much time is spent on detailing how the two of them met and how their courtship progressed However since none of those things really matter I had that that same feeling while reading that I had when watching the aforementioned Titantic Quit falling in love and hit the damn iceberg already Only it s a German U boat instead of a chunk of ice this time As usual with the parts I actually care about Larson does a pretty decent job of creating narrative history to give us a vivid account of what life was like for the passengers and crew of the ship as well as the Germans on the submarine He also gives us a good idea of the touchy political situation that existed between the various nations involved because of World War I He does seem to prefer doling out trivia and anecdotes rather than dealing in any meaningful way with the bigger questions of the event The conspiracy theories about why England didn t do to protect the ship and speculation about the what caused a secondary explosion after the torpedo hit are barely touched on, but at the same time I know what kind of wallpaper was in the reading salon on board Or I learned that Woody and Edith ate chicken salad on their wedding night, but nothing is said about the critical role she later played in his administration after he suffered a stroke later.It s not bad, but it s also a fairly shallow look that seems interested in telling you what happened rather than really digging into the questions of how or why it did It s like the Hollywood screenplay version of history With romance


  6. says:

    When I came across a radio interview with Erik Larson, talking about his new Lusitania book, Dead Wake, I knew I had to have it I was excited Like, I m going to buy this on my phone as soon as I park my car excited As many of you know, I m deep into a World War I reading project I ve collected so many new titles that my kids are never going to college The Lusitania sinking was a moral turning point in the war It turned American opinion inexorably against Germany It also sowed no small amount of disarray in German submarine policy It is not quite the Pearl Harbor it is made out to be, but it is immensely important Thus, the Lusitania is a required topic in WWI studies Also, it should be noted, I am a Titanic buff, and the Lusitania sinking is a close cousin in the disaster family So there was no doubt I d read this book That didn t mean I expected to love it A couple things gave me pause First, I am not an unabashed Larson admirer I liked Isaac s Storm, his book on the Galveston hurricane, but I liked it in the sense that I like the sandwich I eat for lunch every day That is to say nourishing, but nothing to sing from the rooftops I was also a bit worried by his guileless admission to knowing next to nothing about the Lusitania when he started researching the book It s foolish to expect a person to be an expert before he starts his research, but his lack of basic knowledge such as the fact that the ship sank in 1915 and American did not enter the war until 1917 gave me pause I didn t want to read some hasty work of dilettantism meant to capitalize on centenary interest of the lost liner My worries were for naught This is, in fact, an excellent book It is not the definitive account of the Lusitania I think Diana Preston s book is thorough , but it is far and away the best Every book about a sinking ship is eventually compared to Walter Lord s A Night to Remember It is a natural law Nothing can exceed Lord, of course, but Larson does a damn fine imitation The Titanic sank at a stately 2 hours and 40 minutes after striking an iceberg on April 14, 1912 That lengthy time period is part of the reason for the many dramatic retellings Everyone on board that doomed vessel had time to take a breath, look hard into their own soul, and decide what kind of person they were Managing Director J Bruce Ismay stepped into a lifeboat Isidor and Ida Strauss did not Whatever else their decisions meant life or death, chiefly , they are godsends to the dramatist interested in the human ability to flourish or crumble under duress The Lusitania, on the other hand, was hit by a single torpedo fired by the German submarine U 20 on May 7, 1915 The impact caused incredible damage, heightened by mysterious sympathetic explosions coal dust or burst steam pipes, most likely almost certainly not munitions that destroyed the Lusitania s steering and power The ship was locked into a turn with the propellers still churning forward She sank in eighteen minutes while developing such a severe starboard list that her starboard boats swung far away from the decks, while the portside boats couldn t be lowered because they were flush against the hull The evacuation was a disaster, compounded by the loss of many trained crewmembers to the navy There was no order, no law, no women and children first The ship sank within sight of land, but in terms of help, they were so far from civilization they might as well have been on the Moon 1,198 people died 1,195 passengers and crew, plus 3 German stowaways There was a large percentage of kids on board, including infants In terms of standing a chance at survival on that tilting, plunging deck It might be best not to think about it The chaotic nature of the sinking makes for a difficult narrative Larson solves this problem by paring down his scope to focus on just a handful of people, chief among them the Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat, the female architect Theodate Pope, and crewmember Leslie Morton He also chooses to mostly ignore the better known personages For instance, Alfred Vanderbilt, the ship s most famous and wealthy passenger, rates only 6 mentions in the index Larson also spends a great deal of time with Captain Turner, the Lusitania s master like Captain Smith, an old sea dog who never learned a new trick and the U 20 s commander, Walter Schwieger Oddly, Larson also devotes an inordinate amount of space to President Woodrow Wilson and his burgeoning love affair with Edith Bolling Galt He quotes extensively from Wilson s moony letters In a different book, say, a biography of Wilson, this would make perfect sense Here, it s just a needless distraction The space could have been better served by finding another passenger to follow Or with some freaking pictures How does a major release like this not rate an inset Dead Wake is structured like a suspense thriller Larson utilizes short, punchy chapters that cut between Wilson s maudlin romance in Washington, D.C the intelligence operatives in Great Britain s secret Room 40 the curmudgeonly Captain Turner and his wealthy passengers on the Lusitania this is the second Lusitania title I ve read in short order that ignores the very existence of steerage passengers and Captain Schweiger and his crew of the small but formidable U 20 The scenes set aboard the U 20 are among the book s best Larson admits to enjoying this part the most during the writing and research process, and it shows He fills these sections with pungent, tactile details about the cramped conditions, the myriad dangers, and the many horrible smells a WWI submariner faced First there was the basal reek of three dozen men who never bathed, who wore leather clothes that did not breathe, and shared one small lavatory The toilet from time to time imparted to the boat the scent of a cholera hospital and could be flushed only when the U boat was on the surface or at shallow depths, lest the undersea pressure blow material back into the vessel This tended to happen to novice officers and crew, and was called a U boat baptism The odor of diesel fuel infiltrated all corners of the boat, ensuring that every cup of cocoa and piece of bread tasted of oil Then came the fragrances that emanated from the kitchen long after meals were cooked, most notably that close cousin to male body odor, day old fried onions.The attack on the Lusitania and her sinking is told in vivid, lucid prose That first turmoil, that first bubble of foam, was the expulsion of compressed air from the submarine s launching tube as the torpedo exited The torpedo itself was 20 feet long and 20 inches in diameter its nose, shaped like the top of a corn silo, contained 350 pounds of TNT and an explosive called Hexanite It moved at about 35 knots, or 40 miles an hour, powered by compressed air stored in a tank toward its nose, just behind the compartment that contained the explosives The air rushed against the pistons in its engine, geared to spin two propellers, one clockwise, the other counterclockwise, to keep the torpedo from rolling and veering As the torpedo advanced, the water rushing past its nose turned a small propeller, which unscrewed a safety device that prevented detonation during storage This propeller slipped from the nose and fell to the sea bottom, thereby exposing a triggering mechanism that upon impact with a ship s hull would fire a small charge into the larger body of explosives The track lingered on the surface like a long pale scar In maritime vernacular, this trail of fading disturbance, whether from ship or torpedo, was called a dead wake I mentioned above that Larson focuses his narrative on a small number of passengers Before the sinking he spends a great deal of time on their biographies a lot of this detail feels mundane and misplaced You might wonder why you have to learn so much about Charles Lauriat s bookselling business Well, the payoff comes when Larson shifts into the Lusitania s final agony You are very much invested in the stories of the passengers and crew struggling to survive because so much time has been devoted to them It s strange, but I when I read, I generally feel a stronger emotional connection to fictional characters than to actual historical people, because fictional characters are given detail, life Nonfiction personages often come across like the stone monuments that now memorialize them Larson does a good job of making real people seem, well, real I ve now got several Lusitania books under my belt I didn t learn anything new in Dead Wake Indeed, there is information to be found in other sources However, this is by far the most compelling, the most riveting presentation of this story, and also one of the better works of history I ve read in awhile Whether you re a World War I buff celebrating the centenary, or a casually interested reader laying beneath the sun while on the deck of a hopefully non sinking cruise ship, this is a great choice.


  7. says:

    Excellent Retelling of the Sinking of the LusitaniaI don t read a lot of nonfiction.But Erik Larson s books read like novels.He s an excellent writer He choses historical events that contain a compelling story He fills the books with details that bring the time, place, and people to life He does an enormous amount of research.I loved Larson s The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, a story about the Chicago world s fair and the convergence of two men, one the fair s architect, the other a serial killer.So when I saw he d come out with a new book, I got hold of the audio as soon as I could get it.The story was not quite as compelling as The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America Perhaps in part this was because there were stories about many people instead of the focus on the two main characters as in The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America Still, Larson did his usual excellent job.And of course, since I live in New York City, I am fascinated by NY City history Larson covers the last voyage of the Lusitania from the beginning.He starts with the preparation of the ship for launch from Pier 54 at Little West 12th Street and the Hudson River it s now used for concerts The West Side Highway now adjacent to Pier 54 didn t yet exist in 1915, the year the Lusitania went down.It s fascinating and the reader feels like he or she is right there with the passengers as they board with their huge and unwieldy trunks and their elaborate travelling outfits.The German government placed a warning advertisement in fifty U.S newspapers in April, warning that Germany was at war with Britain and that the safety of those travelling on trans Atlantic crossings could not be guaranteed.However, no one took the German warnings entirely seriously First of all, the previous rules of engagement had dictated that ships carrying civilians could not be attacked Also, Cunard, the owner of the Lusitania, stood to lose a lot of money if it cancelled its trans Atlantic voyages Tragically, there were children and babies on this voyage than usual.Also, in an ironic twist of fate, another ship, the SS Cameronia, which was supposed to embark at around the same time as the Lusitania, was commandeered by the British Navy for its war effort, so its 41 passengers were transferred to the Lusitania at the last minute.The ship launched a bit late for various reasons on May 1, 1915.Larson details the trans Atlantic voyage, which was largely pleasant and uneventful until the fateful day of May 7, 1915, The ship was headed for Liverpool, England.Its captain, William Thomas Turner, was a capable and experienced sea captain Larson also reconstructs the viewpoint of the Captain of the German U boat, U 20, that sunk the Lusitania on May 7 This man, Kapit nleutnant Walther Schwieger, was a talented and dedicated captain, intent on sinking neutral or enemy ships, as this was his job He was also, apparently, a good man He was heartsick when he realized that women and children died in droves when the Lusitania sank U 20 hit the Lusitania with a single torpedo on May 7 a little after 2 pm a few miles off the Irish coast The ship sunk in about twenty minutes There was also a second explosion onboard, presumably caused by steam pipes on the ship.More than a thousand lives were lost.Several famous people died in the wreck, including Alfred Vanderbilt, who reportedly gave his life jacket to a mother with a child, even though he couldn t swim writer Elbert Hubbard, known for A Message to Garcia and theatrical producer Charles Frohman.Larson follows the stories of several lesser known passengers, some who survived, others who didn t For example, he follows Richard Preston Pritchard, a handsome and popular medical student who apparently died in the sinking Connecticut resident Theodate Pope survived She was one of the first female architects in America She was also involved in spiritualism and possibly in theosophy Her companion on the voyage, Edwin Friend, was lost at sea.The Lusitania was sunk at a time of greater faith I was amazed how many facing death were sustained by their spiritual faith and were able to be calm while dealing with disaster Many survivors reported mystical experiences while waiting to be rescued.However, in other ways, things haven t changed much since 1915.I found it interesting that the authorities in particular Winston Churchill tried to pin the blame for the sinking on Captain Turner However, there was an inquest in which Turner was exonerated.I don t think that brave man, who did survive, was in any way responsible He stayed with the ship until its last moments.Here are some telling facts The Lusitania s speed was limited to less than the 25 knots per hour of which she was capable because Cunard Lines required Captain Turner to cut costs by using only three of Lusitania s four smoke stacks If the ship was running at top speed, perhaps she could have outrun the U boat Although the British knew that U 20 was quite close to the Lusitania, they never warned the ship because they were concerned about revealing their secret operations for decoding the German s encoded messages.By the time the Lusitania received a message about U 20 it was too late.Although the Lusitania had been promised British warships to escort it, those warships never showed up The Brits had already lost some warships to an earlier torpedoing, and apparently they didn t want to risk losing any battle ships.The designers of the collapsible boats did not test them to make sure they were easily deployed in an emergency Apparently the boats were not well designed Captain Turner did conduct at least one drill with the crew for deploying the boats, but Cunard did not focus on passenger safety in the event of an emergency.No one believed that the Germans would actually sink a passenger boat, as this went counter to previous rules of engagement.One wonders whether the British government deliberately allowed the Lusitania to be destroyed to force America to enter World War I As it happened, U.S President Woodrow Wilson did in fact bring the U.S into the war shortly after the destruction of the Lusitania.In any case, Scott Brick is the ideal audio reader for this type of material His expressive voice brings Larson s writing to life.Update. I heard Larson speak liveUpdate I saw Erik Larson speak on February 2, 2016. He was as engaging and interesting a speaker as he is a writer But he was funnier and charming in person.


  8. says:

    The Devil is in the detail and Erik Larson s Dead wake The last crossing of the Lusitania is certainly packed full of detail but details that for me made this book such a worthwhile read Living in Ireland I thought I was informed through history classes in school of the events surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania off the cost of Kinsale Head in Co Cork however I was surprised by the information I gained by reading Dead Wake Published to coincide with the 100th Anniversary in May of this great Maritime tragedy I think this book will inform a whole new generation about a tragedy about an important event in History.The book is extremely well researched and supported by extensive references and notes I read this book on my kindle and was delighted to see that by clicking on a number I was taking to a link providing me with the source of a fact, statement or piece of information I enjoyed reading about the luxury of the ship as opposed to the dreadful conditions of the Submarine and felt I really got a feel for how difficult life on board a sub could be in times of war There is an air of suspense throughout the book even though we know the outcome the author manages to hold our attention and keep us engrossed We also learn a little about the passengers on board the Lusitania but I never got emotionally attached to the characters and this worked well as the book was about facts and events and providing the reader with enough information to form an opinion as to how a ship like the Lusitania ended its voyage in such tragic circumstances This is a book for readers who have an interest in books about war and events in history It s well written and researched and I came away feeling I had learned something new I will certainly check out some reads by this author as this was an engrossing and informative read.


  9. says:

    Wow.This is an all embracing historical heartbreak story.a tragedy that could have been avoided The seas were a war zone..Right from the start, we learn that their were delays leaving New York America was not yet at war yet in May, 1915, against Germany Red flag warnings were everywhere They were suppose to run the ship on 4 engines, but got by with 3 The German government warned Americans that traveling on trans Atlantic wasn t safe Other safety conditions like respect for fog were ignored Nobody was taking warning signs serious.let alone be preventive in the areas of all safety, to the level we would expect It s painful to see now, in hindsight , all the many corrections that would have saved thousands of lives babies onboard than usual, too.This non fiction book reads like fiction I WISH IT WAS Unfortunately these are true events All the events leading up to the ships final crossing was energizing I found it absolutely fascinating reading the details about the ship the submarine William Thomas Turner, his professional growth to well respected and qualified Captain of the Lusitania , and his personal life at home It was especially fascinating hearing from the people who survived. and sad to learn which characters didn t Eric Larrson s detail descriptions were extraordinary the ship the crew the submarine the passengers the suspense in which the story unfoldedMostly I m left with sadness at how many opportunities were missed making this tale all the tragic This story is powerful as The Devil in the White City both stories will be hard to ever forget I also enjoyed In the Garden of Beasts 3 for 3 I guess I m a fan of this authorand I didn t even know it How d that happen lolTalented authors gotta love em


  10. says:

    Stuffed with details Are there too many I continue I feel guilty giving this book only three stars, but that reflects my honest reaction It is interesting It is accurate It is extensively researched It is about an event, the torpedo sinking of the British steamship passenger liner, the Lusitania, in 1915 by a German submarine The death toll came to 1,198 persons, including passengers, crew and 3 German stowaways There were 1,962 on board Only 764 survived It is less about the people involved in the catastrophe, even if many details are given The only person I came close to understanding was the captain of the Lusitania, Captain William Thomas Turner, but not the U Boat captain He did not survive the war, as Turner did, so what we learn about him is predominantly through his logbooks, wireless messages and a few words from acquaintances, one being his fianc e I can in no way say that Larson s research is lacking If anything I would have preferred that he edited out some of all the details presented I don t need to know a passenger s ticket number or that Mr X wore a pink vest or the dimensions of a book brought on board I believe Larson was trying to recreate the atmosphere on the boat, and he certainly did, but the details were excessive.There are parts about President Wilson s sorrow at his wife s death and his subsequent love affair I found this thread scarcely relevant and annoyingly told This book is written in such a manner as to increase suspense and excitement The story follows several threads As suspense mounts in a thread you switch to another Over and over again, with increasing rapidity and shorter and shorter episodes Like all the ads to you get at you near the end of a film on TV.The second half of the book which describes the sinking is engrossing In this section there is also a discussion of blame This too was fascinating Who was most at fault The captain because he didn t zigzag and didn t follow a course further from shore Or did they simply need an easy scapegoat to divert suspicion Or the British Admiralty Why wasn t the Lusitania given an escort The Admiralty had thorough knowledge through secret decoding information Or the Cunard Line Should they be blamed It was them that ordered Turner to only use three of the four boilers, thus lowering the liner s speed, making it susceptible to submarine attack Many passengers chose the Lusitania because of the boat s speed They were not informed that the speed had been lowered Or was there a conspiracy plot to draw America into the war Yes, the second half is much better than the first half Maybe the book deserves four stars for the latter half I liked the book but I didn t REALLY love it, so I stick with my three stars.The audiobook is narrated by Scott Brick Everybody loves this guy, but I don t The tempo is slow, exaggeratedly slow Why does Brick do this To increase suspense, to keep the listener hanging This is not to my taste, but you may love it.