Cover image for Dead wake : the last crossing of the Lusitania
Title:
Dead wake : the last crossing of the Lusitania
Author:
Larson, Erik, 1954- , author.
Edition:
[Large print ed.]
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Large Print, [2015]

©2015
Physical Description:
xiv, 648 pages (large print) : illustration, map ; 24 cm
Summary:
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.
Language:
English
Corporate Subject:
ISBN:
9780804194617
Format :
Book

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Audubon Library D592.L8 L28 2015B Adult Large Print Large Print
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Dudley Branch Library D592.L8 L28 2015B Adult Large Print Large Print
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Orchard Park Library D592.L8 L28 2015B Adult Large Print Large Print
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Julia Boyer Reinstein Library D592.L8 L28 2015B Adult Non-Fiction Large Print
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City of Tonawanda Library D592.L8 L28 2015B Adult Large Print Large Print
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East Aurora Library D592.L8 L28 2015B Adult Large Print New Materials
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Summary

Summary

#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.


Author Notes

Erik Larson was born in Brooklyn on January 3, 1954. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania and went to graduate school at Columbia University. Larson worked for the Wall Street Journal and then began writing non-fiction books. He is the bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist and Edgar Award-winning, The Devil in the White City, which has been optioned for a feature film by Leonardo DiCaprio. He also wrote In the Garden of the Beasts, Issac's Storm, Thunderstruck and The Naked Consumer.

Larson has taught non-fiction writing at San Francisco State University, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and the University of Oregon.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The sinking of the British ocean liner Lusitania in 1915 is one of a trio (including the iceberg-wounded Titanic in 1912 and the Italian liner Andrea Doria, which collided with another liner on the high seas in 1956) of the most dramatic and most remembered maritime disasters of the twentieth century. With the narrative skills shown so effectively in his The Devil in the White City (2003), a lively account of Chicago's 1893 World's Fair, Larson reconstructs the last and fatal voyage of what was widely considered the most beautiful ship of the day, the giant four-stacker Lusitania. Reader engrossment is tightly sustained as we move back and forth between the Lusitania on its return from New York City to its home port of Liverpool under a black cloud of warnings that the imperial German government considered the waters around Britain to be a war zone, and the rapacious German submarine U-20, stalking the seas for prey like a lion on the Serengeti. Factual and personal to a high degree, the narrative reads like a grade-A thriller. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The popularity of Larson's previous books guarantees public-library demand for his latest.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

With a narrative as smooth as the titular passenger liner, Larson (In the Garden of Beasts) delivers a riveting account of one of the most tragic events of WWI. The fact a German U-boat sank the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland in May 1915 is undisputed, so Larson crafts the story as historical suspense by weaving information about the war and the development of submarine technology with an interesting cast of characters. He expertly builds tension up to the final encounter. An unanticipated sequence of events put the Lusitania in the path of Capt. Walther Schwieger's U-20, and he didn't hesitate to open fire. The Lusitania's captain, the capable and accomplished William Thomas Turner, did everything in his power to avert the catastrophe, but fate intervened, taking the lives of 1,195 passengers and crew members, including 123 Americans. Despite the stunning loss of life, President Woodrow Wilson held firm to American neutrality in the war, at least in 1915. Larson convincingly constructs his case for what happened and why, and by the end, we care about the individual passengers we've come to know-a blunt reminder that war is, at its most basic, a matter of life and death. Illus. Agent: David Black, David Black Literary Agency. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. When veteran captain William Thomas Turner accepted the pinnacle position within Cunard Steamship Company, commander of the RMS Lusitania, he never imagined the danger that lay ahead. Bestselling author Larson (In the Garden of Beasts; The Devil in the White City) traces the liner's final voyage by intertwining narratives of Turner with those of notable passengers such as Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat, trailblazing architect Theodate Pope, and suffragette Margaret Mackworth. Hardest to shake are descriptions of impulsive Captain Schwieger and his disheveled German crewmates torpedoing vessels, reveling in the shrill of explosions; and imposing British spymaster Blinker Hall stealthily monitoring Schwieger's U-20 as it discreetly, or so it thought, hunted targets. Rounding out the primary cast are a trio of political players: an ambitious Kaiser Wilhelm, a disciplined Winston Churchill, and an infatuated (and ergo distracted) Woodrow Wilson. Using archives on both sides of the Atlantic, Larson describes the Lusitania's ominous delayed departure and its distressing reduced speed. He vividly illustrates how these foreboding factors led to terror, tragedy, and ultimately the Great War. VERDICT Once again, Larson transforms a complex event into a thrilling human interest story. This suspenseful account will entice readers of military and maritime history along with lovers of popular history. [See Prepub Alert, 9/8/14.]-Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

A WORD FROM THE CAPTAIN On the night of May 6, 1915, as his ship approached the coast of Ireland, Capt. William Thomas Turner left the bridge and made his way to the first-class lounge, where passengers were taking part in a concert and talent show, a customary feature of Cunard crossings. The room was large and warm, paneled in mahogany and carpeted in green and yellow, with two fourteen-foot-tall fireplaces in the front and rear walls. Ordinarily Turner avoided events of this kind aboard ship, because he disliked the social obligations of captaincy, but tonight was no ordinary night, and he had news to convey. There was already a good deal of tension in the room, despite the singing and piano playing and clumsy magic tricks, and this became more pronounced when Turner stepped forward at intermission. His presence had the perverse effect of affirming everything the passengers had been fearing since their departure from New York, in the way that a priest's arrival tends to undermine the cheery smile of a nurse. It was Turner's intention, however, to provide reassurance. His looks helped. With the physique of a bank safe, he was the embodiment of quiet strength. He had blue eyes and a kind and gentle smile, and his graying hair--he was fifty-eight years old---conveyed wisdom and experience, as did the mere fact of his being a Cunard captain. In accord with Cunard's practice of rotating -captains from ship to ship, this was his third stint as the Lusitania 's master, his first in wartime. Turner now told his audience that the next day, Friday, May 7, the ship would enter waters off the southern coast of Ireland that were part of a "zone of war" designated by Germany. This in itself was anything but news. On the morning of the ship's departure from New York, a notice had appeared on the shipping pages of New York's newspapers. Placed by the German Embassy in Washington, it reminded readers of the existence of the war zone and cautioned that "vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction" and that travelers sailing on such ships "do so at their own risk." Though the warning did not name a particular vessel, it was widely interpreted as being aimed at Turner's ship, the Lusitania , and indeed in at least one prominent newspaper, the New York World, it was positioned adjacent to Cunard's own advertisement for the ship. Ever since, about all the passengers had been doing was "thinking, dreaming, sleeping, and eating submarines," according to Oliver Bernard, a theater-set designer traveling in first class. Turner now revealed to the audience that earlier in the evening the ship had received a warning by wireless of fresh submarine activity off the Irish coast. He assured the audience there was no need for alarm. Coming from another man, this might have sounded like a baseless palliative, but Turner believed it. He was skeptical of the threat posed by German submarines, especially when it came to his ship, one of the great transatlantic "greyhounds," so named for the speeds they could achieve. His superiors at Cunard shared his skepticism. The company's New York manager issued an official response to the German warning. "The truth is that the Lusitania is the safest boat on the sea. She is too fast for any submarine. No German war vessel can get her or near her." Turner's personal experience affirmed this: on two previous occasions, while captain of a different ship, he had encountered what he believed were submarines and had successfully eluded them by ordering full speed ahead. He said nothing about these incidents to his audience. Now he offered a different sort of reassurance: upon entering the war zone the next day, the ship would be securely in the care of the Royal Navy. He bade the audience good night and returned to the bridge. The talent show continued. A few passengers slept fully clothed in the dining room, for fear of being trapped below decks in their cabins if an attack were to occur. One especially anxious traveler, a Greek carpet merchant, put on a life jacket and climbed into a lifeboat to spend the night. Another passenger, a New York businessman named Isaac Lehmann, took a certain comfort from the revolver that he carried with him always and that would, all too soon, bring him a measure of fame, and infamy. With all but a few lights extinguished and all shades pulled and curtains drawn, the great liner slid forward through the sea, at times in fog, at times under a lacework of stars. But even in darkness, in moonlight and mist, the ship stood out. At one o'clock in the morning, Friday, May 7, the officers of a New York-bound vessel spotted the Lusitania and recognized it immediately as it passed some two miles off. "You could see the shape of the four funnels," said the captain, Thomas M. Taylor; "she was the only ship with four funnels." Unmistakable and invulnerable, a floating village in steel, the Lusitania glided by in the night as a giant black shadow cast upon the sea. Excerpted from Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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