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, mystery, and real-life suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle to President 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 that helped place America on the road to war.
Dead Wake Erik Larson Crown Publishers, 2015 Source: My OWn Bookshelf
In Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, Larson covers the events leading up to the shipwreck and the consequences of it, the lives of select travelers, World War I, and Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. Readers of Larson’s bestseller Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America who did not enjoy the juxtaposition of the world’s fair and a serial killer will have no such problems with Dead Wake. This story is focused; all perspectives relate directly to the Lusitania and World War I. In fact, alternating between the U-boat and the Lusitania builds audience suspense. Including reasons for the travelers being on the ill-fated ship adds a dose of reality and is reminiscent of the 1997 movie Titanic(minus the sentimental, romantic storyline.)
In addition to excellent research, Larson’s story is made more captivating by the “what if” questions. For example, “What if the Lusitania had not taken a zig zag pattern?” and “What if the ship’s departure had not been slowed down?” Larson also includes speculations from others about possible conspiracies and the likelihood of those theories. Overall, Dead Wake is a mesmerizing read, perfect for fans of history.