Publisher's Note:  

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of 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 while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow 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 whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Crown Publishers

Dead Wake

by Erik Larson

Review Date:

Recommended Age:

Overall Rating:

Profanity / Language Rating:

Violence / Gore Rating:

Sex / Nudity Rating:

Overall Review:  

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania is best-selling author Erik Larson's latest masterpiece. Larson breathes new life into this retelling of the English ocean liner's fateful journey across the Atlantic in 1915. Larson's storytelling is detail-oriented, easy-to-follow, and extremely intriguing. As a master of detail, Larson includes interesting factual tidbits (the color of the ship's curtains, for instance) that don't slow the book's flow. The novel's chapters vary in setting, from the infamous German U-20 to the grand Lusitania, as well as scenes from the secretive British Intelligence Room 40 and the White House in Washington. While the sinking of the ship is the book's electrifying climax, Larson shines in his explanation of what happened after the disaster. Dead Wake also outlines what it took to eventually bring America into World War I. This is a fantastic read for anyone--history buff or not!


Review of Advance Reader Copy

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  5 religious exclamations, 7 mild obscenities, 1 derogatory name.


Violence/Gore:  Germany threatens to sink other country's ships; frequent secondhand reports of violence involving World War I battles and espionage, as well as naval accidents and ships being sunk by submarines; brief scenes of violence involving battle and the use of poisonous gas; numerous non-detailed scenes of violent death when the Lusitania and other boats are torpedoed; a few brief scenes of gory battle or descriptions of the deceased that involve blood and gore. 


Sex/Nudity:  A few implied or reported incidents of sexual activity. 

Mature Subject Matter:  

War and other war crimes, terrorism, mental health and depression, death of friends and family members, mention of suicide.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Individuals often drink and smoke. 

Reviewed By Rachel
No image available