Tuesday, April 07, 2015

"Dead Wake"

Erik Larson's book about the sinking of the Lusitania is a workmanlike retelling of the calamity.  It is well written and entertaining, and the perspective of the passengers that it chooses to highlight are interesting representatives of a time period. That, however, seems to be a sort of wealth worship story for the most part.  Unlike previous books read here by Larson, there is no significant revelation of new facts or a retelling of a not widely known story.  It is a pleasant comprehensive read about a tragic event, but not groundbreaking.  One could wonder if the book was a publisher's idea, with a tidy advance to the author, to have such writing coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of that majestic ship.

To the contrary, "In The Garden Of Beasts", Larson's last book was an incredible tale of an obscure U.S. ambassador to Germany during the rise and ultimate domination of the Nazi's in that country.  Who could have known this story outside of highly focused historians, and Larson made it come alive as he includes the ambassador's family to spice up the action.  His other most well received book, "The Devil in the White City", was an informative account of the historic 1893 Chicago World's Fair combined with an account of a serial killer that haunted the event.  Here the World's Fair history was enjoyed, but the graphic detail of the serial killer's work led the book to be closed forever at the midway point.  There was no interest in that stuff.  The idea was digested but it went on and on.

Passing on "Lusitania" to K was an easy choice, as the reading was entertaining here even if the background of the story was not big news.  


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