Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania by Erik Larson
On 1 May 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool. The passengers - including a record number of children and infants - were anxious.
Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, its submarines had brought terror to the North Atlantic.But the Lusitania's captain, William Thomas Turner, had faith in the gentlemanly terms of warfare that had, for a century, kept civilian ships safe from attack.
He also knew that his ship - the fastest then in service - could outrun any threat. But Germany was intent on changing the rules, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige.
Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit were tracking Schwieger's U-boat...but told no one.
As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way towards Liverpool, forces both grand and achingly small - hubris, a chance fog, a closely-guarded secret and more - converged to produce one of the great disasters of 20th century history.
It is a story that many of us think we know but don't, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted. Full of glamour, mystery, and real-life suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, including the US President Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.
Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster that helped place America on the road to war.