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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

av Erik Larson

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3,8612442,446 (4.14)297
The #1 New York Times best-selling author of In the Garden of Beasts presents a 100th-anniversary chronicle of the sinking of the Lusitania that discusses the factors that led to the tragedy and the contributions of such figures as President Wilson, bookseller Charles Lauriat and architect Theodate Pope Riddle.… (mer)
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» Se även 297 omnämnanden

engelska (242)  spanska (1)  franska (1)  Alla språk (244)
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Larsen has done an excellent job of taking what today a 100 years later is just a headline and crafted it into a compelling read. ( )
  jimgosailing | Nov 18, 2021 |
Would you believe I started this because [b:The Goldfinch|17333223|The Goldfinch|Donna Tartt|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1378710146s/17333223.jpg|24065147] was too depressing to read on the way to a conference? Because I did.

In defense of my sanity, I will say that I know Erik Larson is a master of the setup, so the first nearly-half was the kind of lovely that I imagine passengers on the Lusitania must have felt: maybe a hint of foreboding, but too distant to be truly tangible. Even as the number of sunk ships rose, it felt separate and far away. There's always a barrier--the other side of the world, the other side of the surface, the other side of the page--until suddenly there isn't. (Which is a genius formatting move, by the way.)

What makes this feeling of detachment all the more impressive is Larson's closing note of incredulity about why anyone would get on a ship that had been so explicitly threatened. But that's part of what made this book so fascinating for me.

We live in a world where mass threats are very, very real. These people lived in a world where that reality was only just coming into being. That, more than the time period, more than the desperate scramble for boats, more than the eerie quiet after the ship sank, is the hardest part for me to imagine.

Like Larson, I'd been under the impression that the US entered World War I following the sinking of the Lusitania--I can remember putting it in the same list as the Zimmerman note: Main Causes of US Entry. That the majority of this trigger-happy nation could take as much time as it did (spoilers?) to enter the fray is astonishing to me.

But I linger on the history when the delight of this book is the prose. Those who know my reading preferences will understand why I love Larson's style: dozens of people connecting in unexpected ways, gorgeous little details beside big ideas writ small and manageable. I've put this nonfiction book on my great world-building and great characters "shelves" because of Larson's excellent ability to convey the nuance of a setting, to find the right words to bring a person long dead back to life in the reader's mind's eye.

I only have two complaints: First, I was a bit surprised while reading it how far the last chapter strayed from the Lusitania itself--though that's probably the effect of the amount of time it took for the ship's modern significance to manifest. The future author writing narrative nonfiction about the September 11 attacks won't need nearly so much space to cover the time between disaster and war. Second, I ran into the epilogue like a telephone pole. Ouch! Unexpected misery! There are so many notes in the back that I thought I had far more time to enjoy everything than I actually did. (I'm still pecking at the notes now and then, for the little tidbits that didn't make it into the text).

And now it's time to get personal. It's hard for me to watch movies like Titanic, not because it's unbearably romantic (eugh), but because I look at the terrified people in the background, the ones with no stories, no footnotes in history, and I connect. I almost had a panic attack in the theater at the end of Star Trek: Into Darkness because I was watching the destruction of the city and thinking of how much death and pain that would entail. How dare they, the writers, ask me to care about one person's death in the middle of that swept-under-the-rug nightmare? How dare they ask me to believe that everything is fixed and happy and as it was before in the end?

It's hard to believe the Lusitania sank as fast as it did. I don't know that I could have handled it in one sitting if it had been as long as the Titanic's nearly three hours...but then, if it had, there definitely wouldn't have been such a great loss of life. The individual stories kept me going through it, and then it was over and time to think about the survivors. I felt that this book did a good job of following both the individual and international effects of the sinking--we saw the families trying to reclaim their loved ones and we saw countries trying to come to peace through the worst war the world had seen yet. That one book can do both so well is truly remarkable.

Quote Roundup

(Audrey was disgruntled when I took the book from under her paws. The beautiful black-gold-white-and coffee cover compliments her fur well.)

(I'm going to do a lot less actual quoting for this review, since the book only officially published on Tuesday.)

31) Again, for people who grew up watching and reading about terrorist attacks, the 19th-century cruiser rules that dictate that a warship must protect the crew of its prize are not just quaint, but bizarre. It's hard to imagine a time when such chivalry would have been normal and expected instead of being worth several paragraphs throughout the book.

49) Margaret Mackworth, an early feminist and suffragette, sounds like an awesome woman. I can't wait to learn more about her!

63) Conditions in U-boats sound truly awful. Nautilus U-20 was not! Oh, and the "U-boat baptism" is unfortunately reminiscent of something that happened to my family while sailing. Needless to say, we never again just trusted that the previous sailors had emptied the sewage tank as required.

101) Theodate Pope was another great woman I'm itching to learn more about, but this line resonated with me: "There is nothing like the diversion of travel for one who is mentally fagged." Yes, yes, get over your sniggers. Modern definition aside, I couldn't agree more. I've always enjoyed travel, even just sitting in the car while my parents drove me around the desert. I had a generous dose of travel in February and am already trying to figure out when I can get my next fix.

156) "What is the German government driving at? Is it bent on incurring war with the United States?" Obviously we're getting a bit of a one-sided picture here, but it is astounding how many false moves and diplomatic gaffes Germany seemed to make without doing more than lifting an eyebrow. Most likely they didn't take the United States seriously--the country had never been involved in the decades-long wars so familiar to Europe and clearly weren't chomping at the bit to get in on the action--but still, if you just count up the sheer manpower from a country as big as the US, them ain't fightin' odds. I mean, jeez, they were lucky enough to stop worrying about Russia... I really want to read this book from the German perspective!

192, 209) I was impressed to read all of Captain Turner's precautions. Far from being grossly negligent, he seemed to do so much right, or at least as right as he could get it under the circumstances. True, there were other things that could have been done, things that the passengers suggested, but nothing really egregiously wrong that could have stopped the whole thing from happening, no matter what's implied by survivors later. (I didn't quite buy the hype Larson built up over a few small details: with a freak incident like this, almost any single changed variable could have had a different result, so it seems pointless to point out a few of the many many many ways this might not have happened.

257) The Lusitania was simply too big and too well built to sink. Did you learn nothing from the Titanic? Good grief! How can anything be too big to sink? It's practically oxymoronic! Heck, even continents sink!

322) The scapegoating was no less sad for being expected. Go, Lord Mersey!

324) Kind of amazed and quite relieved that more space wasn't given to the conspiracy theories. Though I see the cold logic and am often a pessimist on the small scale, I like to believe in the greater goodness of people toward their own people, if no one else. There's a definite difference between an orchestrated disaster and one that's just allowed to happen.

330) Here's where the American people astonished me. Wouldn't it be lovely to find a happy medium between that extreme pacifism and our current comparative belligerence? Except that the situations aren't at all comparable, so...

342) "The world," he said, "must be made safe for democracy." One of the eeriest lines of the book for me. How much violence has been done since then in the name of making the world safe for democracy? And, well, I'm really disappointed in Wilson, of all presidents, for classifying the US as a "democracy". We're a freakin' republic!

Finally, on a closing note, while I did thoroughly enjoy this book, I think [b:In the Garden of Beasts|9938498|In the Garden of Beasts Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin|Erik Larson|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327864303s/9938498.jpg|14831761] is still my favorite of what I've read so far. ( )
  books-n-pickles | Oct 29, 2021 |
What a fascinating story. The Lusitania’s sinking rivals the Titanic, as both were the largest ships in the world when they launched and reached global news. To write Dead Wake, Erik Larson gathers plenty of detail from diary journals and interviews to weave a compelling tale as he recounts the story from multiple angles. The Lusitania’s sinking is set against the backdrop of a German submarine frontal assault on vessels in the Atlantic, leaving a trail of destruction behind. Aboard the Lusitania, an unusually calm sea on a late spring day proved to be a deadly one. A torpedo cruising at 10 feet below the water left a visible white trail as it marched toward the massive ship. It wound up killing 1198 people. German U-boats were notorious killers and left no boat safe out on the open seas. Flying neutral colors mattered little to the captains who saw civilian ships like the Lusitania as prized vessels. ( )
  joshcrouse3 | Sep 17, 2021 |
Fascinating book. Larson weaves an engaging tale with incredible detail. ( )
  jenncaffeinated | Jul 4, 2021 |
adult nonfiction; 1915 sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania and Wilson's eventual entering of WWI. Also german u-boats. Extensively researched and compiled, per Larson's usual high standards. I kind of wanted to see some of the photos referenced, but he did describe them fairly. I think I enjoyed "Thunderstruck" more--more suspense and a bit more exciting than watching an ocean liner traverse the Atlantic. I would not recommend this to those who prefer a plot-driven narrative, but for fans of Larson it does nicely. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
Visa 1-5 av 244 (nästa | visa alla)
If creating “an experience” is Larson’s primary goal, then “Dead Wake” largely succeeds. There are brisk cameos by Churchill and Woodrow Wilson, desperate flurries of wireless messages and telegrams, quick flashes to London and Berlin. These passages have a crackling, propulsive energy that most other books about the Lusitania — often written for disaster buffs or steampunk aficionados — sorely lack.
tillagd av amarie | ändraThe New York Times, Hampton Sides (betalvägg) (Mar 5, 2015)
 

» Lägg till fler författare (14 möjliga)

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Bouffartigue, Paul-SimonÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Brick, ScottBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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The Captains are to remember that, whilst they are expected to use every diligence to secure a speedy voyage, they must run no risk which by any possibility might result in accident to their ships. They will ever bear in mind that the safety of the lives and property entrusted to their care is the ruling principle which should govern them in the navigation of their ships, and no supposed gain in expedition, or saving of time on the voyage, is to be purchased at the risk of accident.

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On the night of May 6, 1915, as his ship approached the coast of Ireland, Capt. William Thomas Turner left the bridge and made his way to the first-class lounge, where passengers were taking part in a concert and talent show, a customary feature of Cunard crossings.
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The #1 New York Times best-selling author of In the Garden of Beasts presents a 100th-anniversary chronicle of the sinking of the Lusitania that discusses the factors that led to the tragedy and the contributions of such figures as President Wilson, bookseller Charles Lauriat and architect Theodate Pope Riddle.

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