Dead Wake by Erik Larson Review


Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

My Thoughts: Before reading this book I knew very little about the Lusitania or even World War 1 for that matter. I had heard of the Lusitania in name only. I was a bit hesitant to pick up this book as don’t tend to enjoy war stories, but this book was phenomenal! Several times while reading this, I had to remind myself that I was reading a non-fiction book because the writing style was not what I have experienced with past non-fiction stories (dry, boring). This story was suspenseful and very hard to put down.

Many characters are introduced in this story but Larson does a great job at reminding the reader who each person is when referred to later. Getting to know these people that were on board made the story very real and all the more sad. Along with the characters, Larson includes things they wrote about their time on board. While reading, you are unaware who will survive and who won’t which adds to the suspense of the story.

The reader is a first hand witness to the fear and terror that these people experienced. Mothers losing their children, children losing their parents, people witnessing the loss of lives and floating among the dead. Such a sad event.

This book also opened my eyes to how despicable humans can be. Both the Germans and the British had a part in this tragic disaster, each for their own selfish reasons. I was filled with frustration and anger as I read of all the ways this could have been prevented.

Overall this was an amazing book. Larson is an extremely gifted and talented writer, who truly brings history to life. I will definitely be picking up more of his books in the future.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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