Erik Larson provides a fascinating history of the ship, its passengers and crewmembers, as well as a detailed account of its final voyage from New York to Liverpool, England--its intended destination. His account highlights the myriad of decisions and factors that played a key role in the ship's demise, including: the design of the ship, the decision to set sail just days after the German's had issued a warning that passenger ships were considered "fair game" for their submarines, the decision by the British government not to provide a military escort for the ship once it approached waters known to be patrolled by German U-boats, and the decisions made by the ship's captain that ultimately put the Lusitania in the exact spot it was in when the U-boat's captain raised its periscope and saw her. Larson highlights the fact that if any one of those factors or decisions had been different, the Lusitania probably would have made it to Liverpool unscathed, and the U.S. might not have ever entered the war.
Larson has written other historical books, including his bestseller The Devil in the White City, but Dead Wake is the first I've read. Based on how good Dead Wake was, I'm more excited than ever to read his others.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆