Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson; 430 pages 

Everyone has heard about the sinking of the Lusitania. On May 1, 1915 the Lusitania left port in New York City sailing towards the war zone. A week later it entered the war zone where it was sunk by a German torpedo. 

This book tells the untold story of all the circumstances surrounding the sinking. It talks about what the British knew in the week leading up to the sinking and the German movements around the UK. 

This book actually blew my mind. Everything about this book is true, Erik Larson is known for his skill at writing narrative non fiction. 

In researching the information needed for this book he was able to uncover information that put a whole new perspective on WWI. At least for me it did. I love reading books set in the first half of the 20th century so I think I know quite a bit about WWI and WWII. This book proved that everything I thought I knew about WWI was so insignificant that it is almost nothing. 

I need to rant a little so if you want to be mind blown like me when you read the book, scroll to the end and see my rating. If you’re curious and no intention of reading the book, keep reading. 

First, the British were able to crack every German code they intercepted during the war. Not really new information. But they had a whole operation called Room 40 that did all the code breaking. And they knew so much more than they let on during the war!! They had so much information that they kept secret because they didn’t want the secret that was Room 40 getting out. 

Some of the info they knew: 

  1. Positions of German subs
  2. Secret German correspondence 

They were well aware that the Lusitania might be attacked. They knew there was a German sub in the path of the Lusitania that would most likely try to sink it. They knew this BEFORE the Lusitania left port in New York! But they failed to warn the ship until the last possible second and they did so in the vaguest way possible. Not only that but they failed to radio the Lusitania when a safer route opened up! They could have sent them a different way completely and avoided the whole disaster. 

And after. Oh don’t even get me started on what the British did after. They tried to lay the blame on the captain of the ship! Like it was all his fault because he wasn’t sailing mid-channel and he wasn’t sailing in a zig zag pattern (which it was later proved he was but for other reasons). That bit made me angry. 

But what an amazing book. I learned so much from it and it was such an eye opening read. 

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Next review: Looking for Alaska by John Green 

Watch for: Movie review for Me Before You

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