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Dead Wake

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Whatever Erik Larson writes, I am sure to read it.  With his proverbial wit and historical detail, his new book, Dead Wake covers the travels of the Lusitania and the German U-boat that sunk it down.  With a careful handling of the events that took place before and after the Lusitania’s plight, Erik gets into the momentous event and the circumstances surrounding the massive Cunard passenger boat.  You get a behind the scenes look into the captains, the personalities on the ship, including a book dealer and people of some means.

One of the great strengths of the book is Larson’s detailed account of Charles Lauriat, Boston bookseller and collector of rare copies of Dickens and other fine works.  We get the sense that Larson was interested not only in the occupation of Lauriat, but his desire to find the most ornate copies of great author’s works and present them to others for sale.  For Lauriat, this voyage on the Lusitania was as much a business venture for profit as it was for enjoyment on a mighty vessel.

Larson paints a very complete picture of Walther Schwieger as well, the captain of the German U-boat which sunk the Lusitania.  The Lusitania for Schwieger was a prized possession, a boat to put on his record with the others he manned down.  Schwieger was a man of some skill, notching his destructive efforts in a detailed diary that was the glory of his possession.  Schwieger was competent, deft at patrolling the U-boats at his command and careful to jot down every ship he gunned down.

Dead Wake is a wonderful book, Larson gives us a vivid picture of Room 40 and Churchill, and the relationship that German commandeers had with ships coming into their area. 

Thanks to Blogging for Books for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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