2015: Dead Wake

Dead Wake, Erik Larson - This is the latest by the author of Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck and In the Garden of Beasts.  It's about the sinking of the Luisitania, and I think it might be Larson's best ever.  I'm on the record as thinking that both Devil and Thunderstruck suffered because Larson tried to knit together two stories (serial killer and world's fair; Crippen and Marconi) that had only tangential relations to each other - though I admit I'm the only one on earth who didn't like Devil).  Beasts was much, much better because he focused on one great, gripping story.  And there is no doubt the man can write - for example, he very nicely builds suspense here, even though we all know 1) the Luistania is going to sink and 2) America is eventually going to get into WWI.  

Anyway, the book is pretty basic in that it just tells the story - but Larson nicely selects detail and builds a mood.  I learned a ton about how U boats worked - and my lord, they were pretty damned amazing, even though I could not be more anti-Boche - and he very poignantly sets up the tragedy of the sinking.  Terribly sad details, sense of the imporantance of the event, and even points a finger at the British Admiralty for letting it happen - in particular, the idea that they wanted something to go wrong to get the Americans on the Allied side - even if they didn't want such a terrible loss of life.  It's popular history and  a dad book for sure - but it seems solid, well-researched and I'll keep reading Larson, particlarly if he keeps telling me one story at time.  

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017