Dead Wake

Dead Wake

The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

eBook - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, [2015]
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780553446753
Characteristics: 1 online resource : illustration, map.


From Library Staff

The latest from Larson (Devil in the White City; In the Garden of Beasts) is a page-turning retelling of the sinking of the Lusitania a century ago by a German U-boat during WWI, leading to the death of over 1000 passengers. Larson has a great gift for popular history. He's a masterful storytelle... Read More »

ChiPubLib_Adults May 08, 2015

What better way to observe the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania than to read Erik Larson's excellent new book about this tragic event? With his trademark storytelling skill, Larson brings history to life once more in this fascinating chronicle.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Mar 16, 2018

I am a big fan of Larson's writing and he brings the technological, (submarine, torpedo description), intrigue, (Room 40), suspense/chase (Schweiger's u boat) political, romance and
historical personalities together in this books. I would be interested in other historians' accounts and conclusions.

Feb 27, 2018

I've read most of Larson's other work, and it was excellent. This was no different. His writing was so good, I could actually picture myself on the ship, or in the submarine.

Nov 01, 2017

A very entertaining non-fictional account of the sinking of the Lusitania. I also read "In the Garden of Beasts" another well written non-fiction account of life in Nazi Germany. I would recommend both books if you are a history buff.

Oct 17, 2017

Really enjoyed this book! Easy to read with lots of facts. Travel in the days of steam ships crossing the Atlantic with a 'Marconi room' for communications. The book alternates between the passengers, crew, the U-20 and the President Wilson. The description of the sinking itself was excellent. Recommended reading.

Sep 13, 2017

The book has strengths and weaknesses.
--- Presents solid evidence that Churchill let the LUSITANIA be torpedoed and sunk, killing 1198, when he could easily have saved it with a destroyer escort, because he wanted a disaster that would draw the US into the War. (For decades, the British government falsely denied the LUSITANIA was carrying munitions, and still withholds records about the ship.)
--- The torpedo attack, sinking, and fates of the passengers are interesting when Larson finally gets to them.
--- Dwells tediously on needless tabloid details, including President Wilson's love-sick longings.
--- Should not be taken as explaining the origin of WW1, which Larson, in his rush to novelize history, probably does not understand. He badly understates the importance of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who would soon have succeeded the aged Austrian emperor. Serbia, an Allied power, assassinated F.F. to trigger a war that would dismember the Austro-Hungarian Empire -- which is exactly what followed. Post-war Serbia, enlarged with Austro-Hungarian land, placed a monument to the assassin.
--- The Versailles Treaty, co-authored by Wilson, made the German/Austrian side accept sole blame for starting the War. This injustice opened the door to Hitler's rise. The victors said Austria should not have retaliated for the assassination; but they themselves had often launched wars over far less.
--- Larson ignores all this.

Jul 25, 2017

LOVED it. In fact, I have loved all of Larson's books EXCEPT "Thunderstruck" because the science of the wireless telegraph was simply too dull and tedious to get through. Almost reads like a suspense novel as the submarine hunts for the ship. I also found the technology of WWI interesting; WWI for my generation of Baby Boomers is somewhat of a "forgotten war" since neither our parents or grandparents were old enough to relate any stories about it.

Jul 09, 2017

While I generally enjoy all of Erik Larson's books, this one was a dismal failure. He has had the gift of building suspense of the kind you get in a good novel, even while you know the outcome. However, the last two of his books, this one and In the Garden of the Beasts, have completely missed the mark. I struggled to get through Dead Wake, as the details about how WWI-era submarines and torpedoes work was, frankly, dull. This goes for the Room 40 sections and even the back stories of the Lusitania passengers and descriptions of the interior of the ship. This surprised me as I generally am quite interested in the people and the way things looked. I have to put it down to uninspired writing this time. The portion describing Wilson's despair at the death of his wife and his subsequent romance kept me going, but I have to confess I skipped ahead to find out what happened as the portions in between were just dry as dust. The best, and most fascinating, bit was the sinking itself, but that is the very end of the book. Frankly, you could skip the majority of the book and just read the last couple of chapters and get as much out of it as if you slogged through the first 200 pages. A great disappointment. Better to read Issac's Storm, Thunderstruck, and Devil the White City. Having read all his historical non-fiction, I have to say that Issac's Storm, his first, and the sections regarding the World's Fair in Devil in the White City, are his best work. It is really beginning to look like he has lost the gift to make historical fact read like fiction.

May 03, 2017

Excellent book! Easy to get into the story quickly. The story of the U boat itself was very interesting. Clarified a lot of information about WWI.

Mar 26, 2017

Dead Wake was a very interesting book, a good lesson about the history of WWI, and a look into what travel was like long before airplanes were the standard. The chapters alternate back and forth from the perspective of both The Lusitania and U-20 that sank her, and vary in length, which made it easier to concentrate and remember different details.

AL_HANNAH Jan 05, 2017

Truly epic storytelling!

View All Comments


Add a Summary

Feb 17, 2016

A riveting account of how the Luisitania was sunk by the Nazis, what happened to the crew and the passengers, and how this event forced the U.S. into WWI.

Apr 20, 2015

A compelling read. Larson is a master of relating history in an engrossing fashion. Surprising to learn how various circumstances and events, deliberate and by chance, converged in one moment that resulted in this epic disaster.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings


Find it at CPL

To Top