Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

About a month ago, I received a copy for my review of Dead Awake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson courtesy of Blogging for Books

I was really excited to read this book because I have read a couple of Larson's other books and they were excellent. Dead Awake certainly does not disappoint.  If you are not familiar with the Lusitania, it was a British luxury ocean liner that was sunk by a German submarine (U-boat) during World War I. Despite being a history major, I really didn't know a whole lot about the Lusitania beyond my brief description above. 

Dead Awake follows the lives of passengers and crew immediately before, during and after their trip aboard the Lusitania (if they survived). It also follows President Wilson and the U-boat commander who ordered the strike on the Lusitania.

One of my favorite things about Larson's writing is that he always manages to sneak in some funny lines when tackling such serious subjects. When discussing how a German codebook was obtained by Russians after they found a dead German holding the book, Larson writes about the German: " was probably the codebook that killed him: it was large and heavy, 15 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches, and contained 34,304 three-letter groups used to encode messages." (Page 78)

The imagery in the book is really amazing. I could picture being in New York when the Lusitania left the dock. I could imagine the children jumping rope on deck, what it was like in the staterooms and what everyday life aboard was like.  I could imagine the passengers watching the torpedo heading toward the ship and the panic that ensued afterward as people tried to save their children and themselves.

That is the thing about Larson's book: you know what is going to happen but that doesn't make it any less shocking. His "characters" are all real people and through a stunning amount of research, he brings them to life so you find yourself rooting for them to be safe in the end.

 I enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it, especially to those interested in history!

If you're interested in buying Dead Wake by Erik Larson, you can purchase it here
or at a retailer near you :)


 As noted above, I received this book for my review courtesy of Blogging For Books. All opinions are my own.

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