I have never hidden my love of Erik Larson’s books. I enjoy learning more about the subjects he chooses, and usually find his style very readable and relatable. Larson is a master at recreating a time while giving the reader the ability to belong to that era. Dead Wake was no exception.
The sinking of the Lusitania is something that collectively americans know both very little and very much about. Every grade school child is taught that submarine warfare, specifically the sinking of merchant ships, was one of the reasons the US entered the war. Teachers breeze over the numbers of lives lost and we all collectively think how horrible it was and move one. Larson writes about individuals. He writes about the submarine crew and their journey. He also writes about those code breakers who knew all about the submarine lurking along England’s coast that day, but refused to share their information. Mostly Larson tells the story of the Captain of the Lusitania and the passengers who were taking a dangerous journey. Though the reader knows the ending all along, the individual journeys still break the hearts. I was particularly horrified about the parents traveling with small children. Dead Wake is not just a book about a tragedy, it is a book about people and what their lives were like, and why they would undertake such a journey.
I loved this book. Every heartbreaking page. Meticulously researched, Larson also discusses the aftermath for the passengers and the crew. These were the stories that I didn’t know and had never heard. The only difficulty is that now I’ve read Dead Wake, I don’t know if I can read other books about the sinking or if they will all be bad by comparison. I’d recommend this to non fiction fans, history fans, and people who read maritime books. It has a wide appeal.