Although I already knew the basics of the Lusitania's story, Larson's clear writing and dependably fresh approach ensured that I learned a good deal more, and enjoyed doing it.
The descriptions of the ship and its passengers are interesting and nicely detailed, if sometimes a bit too long and frivolous. There were only a couple of maps, adequate but not terrific, and surprisingly, only one photo, a shot of "Lucy" herself.
The real substance of the book, though, rests in the sections where Larson examines the international political situation and the often petty behind-the-scenes maneuverings that put the ship squarely in the U-boat's sights. From Wilson's selfish romantic distractions to Churchill's callous manipulations, the book provides a concise and often surprising summary of events, the hows as well as the whys, that caused the loss of so many lives. This may not be the definitive book on the Lusitania, but it's a good and engaging introduction to the essentials.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson is the history of the Lusitania brought to life from many different perspectives and at a truly human level. The details are meticulously researched, and the book successfully creates the sense of suspense present in a story well told. The book arrives in time for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2015/03/dead-wake-last-crossing-of-lusitania.html
Reviewed based on a copy received through a publishers giveaway