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  • Laci Barry Post

Reliving the Lusitania with Dead Wake

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

I couldn’t put the book down and go to sleep at night. I had to know which passengers lived and which ones didn’t survive the devastating torpedo attack. The boat sank in just eighteen minutes! Erik Larson’s book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, put me inside the luxurious Lusitania reliving the last days of its fateful voyage with its many passengers and crew, including the fastidious Captain William Turner; Boston bookseller, Charles Lauriat; feminist, Theodate Pope; medical student, Preston Prichard; young mother, Norah Bretherton; brothers and sailors, Leslie and Cliff Morton; actress, Rita Jolivet; and wealthy businessman, Alfred Vanderbilt, to name just some.

If you think back to your middle or high school history class, the name Lusitania comes to mind as a reason the United States entered World War I but little more. It was just a name for me, a proper noun associated with the Great War. It was much than that, however. The boat was the epitome of British maritime prominence and full of people from all walks of life with their own stories to tell. By the way, the boat was also carrying Charles Dickens’ personal copy of A Christmas Carol. Even more importantly, the sinking of the Lusitania was a major part of a chain of events that would lead to the United States entering World War I to Germany’s demise to Hitler and many other Germans’ dissatisfaction with the Treaty of Versailles to World War II, where my book series begins.

If you love history and want to understand this part of America’s past, I highly recommend Erik Larson’s book. You will learn about New York in 1915, a secret war room in London, Woodrow Wilson’s love life, and a lot about submarines. I could never sail in one! This book will put you right in the middle of the action and cause you to rethink history. Sadly, 123 Americans and 1,198 people died in the tragic event. Board the Lusitania and relive their story through Larson's book!

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