Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
With the publication in 2002 of Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy, readers would be forgiven for thinking that another work devoted to the disaster – a mere 13 years on – was unnecessary; Diana Preston’s book, after all, won awards and topped bestseller lists. It is has been regarded as the definitive work – until now, that is, with the release of Dead Wake: The Last Voyage of the Lusitania since, with it, author Erik Larson strips his counterpart of the accolade much like Lusitania did the “Blue Riband” from her competitors.
I say this, in large part, because of Larson’s peerless prose, which pours effortlessly from his pen, and which is evident throughout his four-hundred-page, fact-filled feast: from discussing Britain ruling the waves and Germany waiving the rules; to describing the well-known and little-known aboard; and debunking of conspiracy theories.
‘The sinking of the Cunard liner Lusitania … will always play second fiddle, in the ensemble of maritime disasters,’ John Updike wrote in The New Yorker, ‘to that of White Star’s Titanic, a little more than three years earlier.’ While this maybe so, when it comes to commemorating the centenary of her sinking in 2015, Dead Wake should be readers’ first port of call.