Subtitle: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larson | Non-fiction
On Saturday, May 8, 1915, a father receives a telegram from his son ... "Am saved. Looking for Cliff." Five minutes later another telegram arrives from his other son, "Am saved. Looking for Leslie." Dad knew what his sons didn't ... They both survived the sinking of the Lusitania.
I just discovered Erik Larson this year, with my good friends Jan and Mary recommending The Devil in the White City and then Dead Wake. Ever since I was mesmerized by Katherine Boo who wrote Beyond the Beautiful Forevers, I have learned to appreciate the great skill of an author who can write non-fiction in such a compelling manner, it reads like a page-turner fiction.
Dead Wake was a page turner for me. Larson explores the lives of a few passengers on the Lusitania, the global environment as WW1 heats up, the hard to imagine decisions of the British Admiralty as the German U-boats indiscriminately target merchant as well as military ships, and the personal sorrows and fears of Woodrow Wilson. But what will stick with me the longest is how Larson sketches the captain of the u-boat, Walther Schwieger, who makes an independent decision to torpedo this luxury liner.
I happened to finish this book on the exact day, 99 years later, when Wilson signed the resolution for America to enter the war, April 6, 1917. If you haven't read Dead Wake yet, it would be an excellent addition to your list before April 6, 2017.
I heartily recommend this book ... 4 hearts out of 4.