Dead Wake by Erik Larson

dead wakeDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Crown, 2015

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher via Blogging for Books.

The last three months- kind of coinciding with the end of winter, I’ve lost a bit of my reading mojo. Maybe it’s because I’m so glad not to be cooped up during the cold temperatures, maybe it’s just because I don’t know what to read next, but in any case, my reading has slowed down quite a bit. I tried reading a few things outside of my usual crime fiction, and unfortunately I was a little disappointed in my foray into nonfiction.

I decided to read Dead Wake by Erik Larson because I’ve heard good things about The Devil in the White City, a true-crime book that centers on the Chicago World’s Fair. This book does not suffer for lack of plot: Larson alternates between the stories of the Captain Turner of the Lusitania, the Captain Schweiger of the German submarine that sank the Lusitania, to the stories of several passengers on the massive ship. I have a love-hate relationship with seafaring novels becauseI tend to get bogged down in the details or the battle scenes, but Larson is good at pacing the story by alternating perspectives. The account of the 31 minutes it took for the boat to sink are the most affecting parts of the book. That said, I wasn’t as invested in the story as I was by, say, Titanic, because the passengers he followed, including a rare book dealer from Boston and a spiritualist, didn’t have large enough portions devoted to them. I would have preferred to read their own diaries and books about the experience than getting the whole boat and battle flavor, but that’s my preference in general.

Despite not being the biggest fan of Dead Wake, I’m still curious about The Devil in the White City.




6 thoughts on “Dead Wake by Erik Larson

  1. I loved The Devil and the White City – more for the White City part than the Devil, I must admit – and have my eye on this Lusitania one. I do agree that non-fiction is something you have to be in the right mood for. I always tend to read them alongside lighter fiction, which I find make it more palatable.

    • I own the book but I never read it because I knew I’d miss my book club meeting about it– the best laid plans and all that. Maybe I’ll choose something less disaster-y for my next nonfiction read..

  2. I need to get started on some of the non-fiction I’ve bought that interested me including one you read not that long ago. I’ve heard great things about Larson too and would like to read him so I’ll go see what the price is for “The Devil and White City” and put it on my wishlist for later.

  3. I read Devil and White City years ago and liked it, even though I read very little non-fiction. I also want to read In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by the same author. Larson is one of my husband’s favorite authors, and he is looking forward to reading this book. I am sure I will get to it sometime, mainly because I am interested in the Lusitania in general.

    • I look forward to your review, Tracy! I’ve had Devil in the White City on my shelves for quite some time, and I really have no excuse for not reading it except that I get distracted by new books instead of reading from my own shelves 🙂

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