From the author who gave us The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts comes the equally riveting story about the sinking of the Lusitania, just prior to America’s entering into WWI. Erik Larson has written another thriller. One hundred years ago, this majestic ocean liner became fodder for a German U-boat, the first maritime attack on a passenger vessel in modern history.
The Lusitania was a proud ship from the Cunard line, built for both luxury and speed; in fact, with her speed, she could have outrun the U-boat. Timing is everything in this recounting, and a number of critical misjudgments play a crucial role. As this very thorough history progresses, we learn much about the captain for the ill-fated ocean liner, as well as that of the U-boat. Indeed, even Woodrow Wilson and his love letters to his second wife play into the story.
There were about 2,000 passengers on board ship when it when down off the coast of Ireland in waters known to be a war zone at the time, and more than half lost their lives. But few on board, including the crew, believed that Germans would attack a passenger liner.
Turning what is known history into edge-of-your-seat suspense, Larson plays out the cat and mouse game by the German submarine, and lets us know how close the Lusitania came to a very different ending. There is much to talk about in this book, which is surely headed for the bestseller list.
Dead Wake by Erik Larson. Crown, 2015.