Dead Wake

Name of publisher:  Crown Publishing Group,

Name of author:  Erik Larson

How to contact author:,, or

You can also contact the author through the publisher:  Crown Publishing Group, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

Publication date:  March 10, 2015

Writing genre:  History, Military, World War I

Number of pages in book:  448

Special features:  Table of contents, photographs, bibliography, notes, index, and maps

Book Review:

On May 7, 1915, the Lusitania sank in the waters off of the coast of Ireland after having been torpedoed by a German U-boat. It took all of eighteen minutes for the Lusitania to sink. There were 1,959 passengers and crew aboard the Lusitania, but only 764 of those passengers and crew survived. There were 1,195 passengers and crew that perished, and the bodies of more than half of those who perished were never found. There were 123 American casualties. World War I had just begun. With so much already known about the sinking of the Lusitania, how does an author still manage to create a factually accurate and compelling narrative of the sinking of the Lusitania? Erik Larson has done it by meticulously researching  every available fact about the sinking of the Lusitania, dispelling myths, and telling us more about the passengers and crew of the Lusitania, and the world’s military and political leaders in power at the time. Erik Larson has also included a historical overview of United States and world events unfolding at the time. The result is a literary transport back into time, and onto the shipboard deck of the Lusitania.

I received a copy of Dead Wake as an “Advance Reader’s Edition” free of charge from the publisher of the book. I have previously purchased three of Erik Larson’s other books: Isaac’s Storm, The Devil in the White City, and Thunderstruck. The publisher of Dead Wake did not tell me that I was required to do anything with this book other than they hoped that I would actually read it, and if I enjoyed it, to write and post a review of the book on my blog, website, on Goodreads, and on any social media accounts that I have. I think that it is important to note that in the “Advance Reader’s Edition” of the book that I received and reviewed, there was only one picture (in the front of the book) of the Lusitania, no index, and no maps, although it was clearly stated in the copy of the book that I received that these were to be included in the officially published editions of the book. In all honesty, I would probably have bought this book anyway.

In Dead Wake, Erik Larson tells readers not only about the actual sinking of the Lusitania, but also about the synchronous events that allowed the Lusitania to be torpedoed by a German U-boat. The German Embassy had published a warning in the New York papers just before the scheduled departure of the Lusitania, and had warned the passengers traveling on the Lusitania that they would be sailing into enemy territory. Weather conditions, delays, missile accuracy, and even prominent and well-known figures in the British government that allowed the Lusitania to sail into enemy territory unescorted by any type of military escort, all played a pivotal role in helping shape the destiny of the Lusitania.

Dead Wake should be required reading for anyone interested in a definitive account of the sinking of the Lusitania. In a more general sense, Dead Wake is a definite “must-read” for those interested in history, military intelligence, and World War I. Readers of Dead Wake be forewarned though, you may not want to put the book down until after you’ve finished it.  And then, you might want to pick it up and read it again.

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