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On May 1, 1915, 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 anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds", 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. He knew, moreover, that his ship--the fastest then in service--could outrun any threat.
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 ways 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, mystery, and real-life suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle to President 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 that helped place America on the road to war.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 03-05-16
Naivety VS Barbarians Of War
This amazing book offers a 360 degree birds-eye view of the history of these WWI events from multiple perspectives. A harrowing, engaging and throughly shocking story that kept me hanging on each word. I think Brick did a great job with the narration.
The book skillfully blends the cold dispassionate stories of U-boat attacks and the use of chemical weapons contrasted with the blind trust of the passengers of the Lusitania traveling into a war zone and the manipulative nature of the Admiralty and Room 40 trying to draw America into the war. A full picture is painted and a deeper understanding of life in the WWI years is made deftly available to the reader.
Recommended to history lovers who enjoy blow by blow accounts that place a human face on distant events. Truly a story of senseless murder on the high seas. Many questions are left unanswered in this retelling of negligence vs conspiracy theory incident vs random coincidence. Be forewarned not for the faint of heart. Wow.
41 of 47 people found this review helpful
By Vicki on 11-14-16
Enjoyable but needs editing
Where does Dead Wake rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
I love Erik Larson's books and enjoyed this one too. He's very good at giving a 360 view of an event. That said, this one could have benefited from some editing. For example, we didn't need the details of Wilson's love life to know that he wasn't interested in going to war....because no one in the US was interested in participating in that war.
If you’ve listened to books by Erik Larson before, how does this one compare?
Devil in the White City is still my favorite and Isaac's Storm was better than this one too. Scott Brick's narration was a bit over dramatic.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful