Book Review: Lusitania, An Epic Tragedy

Lusitania: An Epic TragedyLusitania: An Epic Tragedy by Diana Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This remarkable study of the sinking of the Lusitania effectively captures both the nervous gaiety of this massive ship’s last voyage and the cold despair of her passengers in the waters of the Irish coast where so many met their end. In a parallel thread, author Diana Preston takes us into the cramped and musty submarine, U20, to meet her captain, Walther Schwieger, who ordered the torpedo attack.

Perhaps even more interesting to the student of the history of the Great War is Preston’s analysis of reactions on the US, England and Germany. While there was blame all around – from the US’s unacknowledged bias toward Britain, to the Royal Navy’s fudging of records – newly available German records show the Imperial Navy’s commitment to unrestricted use of submarine warfare and their unwillingness to respect the international agreement to “stop and search” commercial liners.

This volume provides a riveting read as well as adding significantly to our understanding of this pivotal event the American path toward war.

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