Larson delivers a detailed and well researched retelling of the last voyage and sinking of the Lusitania. The ship, its crew and passengers are brought to life again against the backdrop of a world at war. Also of note are his recounts of life aboard the U-20. One star is deducted as Larson obsesses over the state of mind of American President Woodrow Wilson following the death of his wife and subsequent courting of her successor. Wilson's relevance to the story could easily have been summed up in a couple of paragraphs but instead Larson punctuates the book with frequent chapters devoted to the man, including reams of private correspondence and recitations of love letters etc. He declares, as if there is some notable significance that they had 'a chicken salad for their late supper.' And the pay off to all this, following the eventual sinking of the Lusitania is that Wilson pens a snippy note to the Germans. I realise that Larson is using Wilson as a sort of embodiment of America but he really did take it too far.
The actual sinking of
the great ship and the recounting of those that were lost and those that
survived is well done and respectful of the tragedy.
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