what I’m reading: dead wake: the last crossing of the lusitania by erik larson.

dead wakeDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

The RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner, first launched in 1906. In 1915, it was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland. 1,198 passengers and crew died. This book tells the story of that last trans-Atlantic crossing.

This book is different than books I typically read. I don’t usually read a lot of non-fiction, but there was something about this novel that made me want to learn more and I’m glad I picked it up.

Dead Wake is a fascinating account of life at the beginning of World War I. The story is told from multiple points of view, including Captain Turner (captain of the Lusitania), Commander Schwieger (commander of the U-boat), President Wilson and other individuals on land in the U.S. and England, and the passengers on board the Lusitania. I enjoyed reading about all the passengers on the boat, although I was disheartened to read that so many perished.

Even though the book is non-fiction, to me it read just like a fiction novel. I could see the passengers walking along the boat promenade and dining in the dining rooms. I appreciated the little personal details that made the passengers come alive, such as the descriptions of the clothes and how they spent their days on board the ship. I loved the portrayal of New York in the days before the Lusitania launched. I also really enjoyed reading the details about life on board a submarine in 1915.

I have never been on a trans-Atlantic cruise, but I’ve seen Titanic and I’ve strolled the decks of the Queen Mary. I am always amazed at the opulence of these passenger liners. Lusitania‘s First Class accommodations consisted of suites with bedrooms, bathrooms, a dining room, and a parlor. On other parts of the ship, there was a reading and writing room that also served as the library. The grand stairway linked all 6 decks of the ship together and there was even a smoking room for the gentlemen.

I suspect that the First Class cabins were probably larger than my entire apartment.

This was such an informative and entertaining book. I greatly enjoyed it.

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