DEAD WAKE by Eric Larson
DEAD WAKE, the beautifully detailed history of the events leading up to and after the sinking of the Lusitania, is written in Larson’s style of presenting well-known facts and events in the manner of a well plotted mystery. Using both famous and obscure persons, Larson fleshes out the event that ultimately leads to the United States entering World War II. He contrasts the tension generated by the ship speeding to disaster with the courtship of the widowed and lonely President Wilson and the discord between Winston Churchill and Jacky Fisher in the British Admiralty. The action moves between the Lusitania, the U-20, President Wilson, and the Admiralty.
Book groups will find the history intriguing and lead to a good discussion of the merits of attacking “innocent” targets during war. Participants will also enjoy a discussion of the courtship between the President and Edith Galt, a “distracted” President during a time of international tension, the safety measures taken on board ship, and the actions (or inaction) of various passengers and ship crew.
A map of the entire area traversed by the U-20 and the Lusitania would be helpful in following the routes. I was frustrated by failing to find points mentioned (and important) noted on the end paper map. A listing of the persons encountered in the book with a brief description would be helpful in identifying the many passengers on the Lusitania when they are re-encountered in widely separated parts of the book. For real history buffs, the end notes are generous and detailed.
5 of 5 stars