The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

0307408876_bErik Larson. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. New York: Broadway Books, 2015. 443 pp. $11.00

Dead Wake is the historical account of the Lusitania, a massive ship in route to Liverpool. Erik Larson is no stranger to popular works of historical lore. He writes with the precision, depth, and passion of David McCullough and the depth of Walter Isaacson.

Erik Larson leaves no stone unturned in Dead Wake. His research is meticulous as he sets up the historical backdrop and traces the journey of the Lusitania from start to finish. No stone is left unturned in this wonderful work.

Characters are wonderfully presented in vivid detail. Most interesting is the portrayal of President Woodrow Wilson, a classic portrait of a spineless leader. The tragic events in his personal life weigh heavily on the leader of the free world. But world events also press in and battle for his attention, including the events that surround the Lusitania.

The subtitle of the book gives some of the drama away as readers should not be surprised when the massive ship sinks. A German U-20 submarine launches a torpedo which cripples the Lusitania and leaves over 1,000 people dead. This tragic ending is presented thoughtfully and tastefully by Larson as he recounts various stories of both death and survival.

Dead Wake is a wonderful read, filled with interesting biographical detail and helps piece together some of the events of World War I which have been largely forgotten. I commend it highly.


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