Dead Wake

Dead Wake

The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Book - 2015
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The #1 New York Times best-selling author of In the Garden of Beasts presents a 100th-anniversary chronicle of the sinking of the Lusitania that discusses the factors that led to the tragedy and the contributions of such figures as President Wilson, bookseller Charles Lauriat and architect Theodate Pope Riddle.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, [2015]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780307408877
Branch Call Number: 940.4514 LARSON
Characteristics: 430 pages : illustration, map ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Last crossing of the Lusitania


From Library Staff

“In cinematic terms, this dramatic page-turner is Das Boot meets Titanic. Larson has a wonderful way of creating a very readable, accessible story of a time, place, and event. We get three sides of the global story–the U-boat commander, British Admiralty and President Wilson–but what really eleva... Read More »

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Nov 01, 2017

A very entertaining non-fictional account of the sinking of the Lusitania. I also read "In the Garden of Beasts" another well written non-fiction account of life in Nazi Germany. I would recommend both books if you are a history buff.

Oct 17, 2017

Really enjoyed this book! Easy to read with lots of facts. Travel in the days of steam ships crossing the Atlantic with a 'Marconi room' for communications. The book alternates between the passengers, crew, the U-20 and the President Wilson. The description of the sinking itself was excellent. Recommended reading.

Sep 13, 2017

The book has strengths and weaknesses.
--- Presents solid evidence that Churchill let the LUSITANIA be torpedoed and sunk, killing 1198, when he could easily have saved it with a destroyer escort, because he wanted a disaster that would draw the US into the War. (For decades, the British government falsely denied the LUSITANIA was carrying munitions, and still withholds records about the ship.)
--- The torpedo attack, sinking, and fates of the passengers are interesting when Larson finally gets to them.
--- Dwells tediously on needless tabloid details, including President Wilson's love-sick longings.
--- Should not be taken as explaining the origin of WW1, which Larson, in his rush to novelize history, probably does not understand. He badly understates the importance of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who would soon have succeeded the aged Austrian emperor. Serbia, an Allied power, assassinated F.F. to trigger a war that would dismember the Austro-Hungarian Empire -- which is exactly what followed. Post-war Serbia, enlarged with Austro-Hungarian land, placed a monument to the assassin.
--- The Versailles Treaty, co-authored by Wilson, made the German/Austrian side accept sole blame for starting the War. This injustice opened the door to Hitler's rise. The victors said Austria should not have retaliated for the assassination; but they themselves had often launched wars over far less.
--- Larson ignores all this.

Jul 25, 2017

LOVED it. In fact, I have loved all of Larson's books EXCEPT "Thunderstruck" because the science of the wireless telegraph was simply too dull and tedious to get through. Almost reads like a suspense novel as the submarine hunts for the ship. I also found the technology of WWI interesting; WWI for my generation of Baby Boomers is somewhat of a "forgotten war" since neither our parents or grandparents were old enough to relate any stories about it.

Jul 09, 2017

While I generally enjoy all of Erik Larson's books, this one was a dismal failure. He has had the gift of building suspense of the kind you get in a good novel, even while you know the outcome. However, the last two of his books, this one and In the Garden of the Beasts, have completely missed the mark. I struggled to get through Dead Wake, as the details about how WWI-era submarines and torpedoes work was, frankly, dull. This goes for the Room 40 sections and even the back stories of the Lusitania passengers and descriptions of the interior of the ship. This surprised me as I generally am quite interested in the people and the way things looked. I have to put it down to uninspired writing this time. The portion describing Wilson's despair at the death of his wife and his subsequent romance kept me going, but I have to confess I skipped ahead to find out what happened as the portions in between were just dry as dust. The best, and most fascinating, bit was the sinking itself, but that is the very end of the book. Frankly, you could skip the majority of the book and just read the last couple of chapters and get as much out of it as if you slogged through the first 200 pages. A great disappointment. Better to read Issac's Storm, Thunderstruck, and Devil the White City. Having read all his historical non-fiction, I have to say that Issac's Storm, his first, and the sections regarding the World's Fair in Devil in the White City, are his best work. It is really beginning to look like he has lost the gift to make historical fact read like fiction.

May 03, 2017

Excellent book! Easy to get into the story quickly. The story of the U boat itself was very interesting. Clarified a lot of information about WWI.

Mar 26, 2017

Dead Wake was a very interesting book, a good lesson about the history of WWI, and a look into what travel was like long before airplanes were the standard. The chapters alternate back and forth from the perspective of both The Lusitania and U-20 that sank her, and vary in length, which made it easier to concentrate and remember different details.

AL_HANNAH Jan 05, 2017

Truly epic storytelling!

AL_LESLEY Nov 09, 2016

Erik Larson has a knack of giving even the driest historical facts a pulse racing fiction feel. The detail is extraordinary and the way he put all of the information together brings immense feeling to the book and the horrible gut wrenching knowledge that if only one out of a million things had been different, the whole thing may never have happened at all.

Sep 10, 2016

Fascinating insight into the days of luxury stream ships crossing the Atlantic prior to the USA entry into WWI. The book weaves through a number of viewpoints, the passengers, the captain, the commander of the U-boat and the president of the USA.

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Feb 17, 2016

A riveting account of how the Luisitania was sunk by the Nazis, what happened to the crew and the passengers, and how this event forced the U.S. into WWI.

Apr 20, 2015

A compelling read. Larson is a master of relating history in an engrossing fashion. Surprising to learn how various circumstances and events, deliberate and by chance, converged in one moment that resulted in this epic disaster.


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