Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the LusitaniaDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This gripping non-fiction account of the final voyage of the Lusitania delves deeply into the personal history of key figures who played a role in one of modern history’s most notorious slaughters. The president of the United States, the captain of the eponymous ship, the captain of the U-boat, and many famous and wealthy passengers, some who lived and some who didn’t, are chronicled as a lead-in to the harrowing and detailed description of the sinking as described by English, Germans, Americans, crew, passengers, and British Admiralty. The crisp no-nonsense prose will appeal to readers and history buffs alike. My only complaint, and it is a very minor one, is that there is a bit too much filler. There is more biography of minor parties than necessary and the years of intrigue and naval warfare subsequent to the sinking that is described is equally unnecessary. Even so, I rushed to the end and the book in any event is not particularly long. Its acknowledgments and sources listed at the end are unusually extensive and thoroughly documented. Although a best-seller, it is a scholarly work worthy of a historian’s respect.

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