March 2015 Indie Next List
“With the taut storytelling form that is Larson's trademark, Dead Wake recounts the tragedy of the sinking of the passenger ocean liner Lusitania. The torpedoing of a passenger liner by a German submarine shocked and horrified the world and served to mobilize American popular opinion in favor of entering World War I. Larson carefully sets the stage for the tragedy, and with dramatic effect recreates the tension of the chase, the horror of the attack, and the tragic aftermath. Dead Wake pulls the reader in and evokes a visceral response of outrage and sadness -- the same response most Americans had upon first hearing the news in 1915.”
— Jon Grand, The Book Stall At Chestnut, Winnetka, IL
#1 New York Times Bestseller
From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania
On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, 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 surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania
was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds"--the fastest liner then in service--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.
Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot
-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger's U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 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 more--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 and suspense, Dead Wake
brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow 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 whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.