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Authors: Erik Larson

Dead Wake

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ALSO BY ERIK LARSON

In the Garden of Beasts

Thunderstruck

The Devil in the White City

Isaac’s Storm

Lethal Passage

The Naked Consumer

Copyright © 2015 by Erik Larson

All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
www.crownpublishing.com

CROWN is a registered trademark and the Crown colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Larson, Erik, 1954–
Dead wake : the last crossing of the Lusitania / by Erik Larson.—First edition.
p.   cm.
Includes bibliographical references.
1. Lusitania (Steamship) 2. World War, 1914–1918—Naval operations, German. 3. Shipping—Government policy—Great Britain—History—20th century. I. Title. II. Title: Last crossing of the Lusitania.
D592.L8L28 2015
940.4′514—dc23    2014034182

ISBN 978-0-307-40886-0
eBook ISBN 978-0-553-44675-3

Maps: Jeffrey L. Ward
Frontispiece: Mary Evans/Epic/Tallandier
Jacket design: Darren Haggar
Jacket photography: Stefano Oppo/Getty Images

v3.1

For Chris, Kristen, Lauren, and Erin
(and Molly and Ralphie, absent, but not forgotten)

CONTENTS

MINING SUSPENSE

(A Note to Readers)

I
FIRST STARTED READING
about the
Lusitania
on a whim, following my between-books strategy of reading voraciously and promiscuously. What I learned both charmed and horrified me. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the incident, but, as so often happens when I do deep research on a subject, I quickly realized how wrong I was. Above all, I discovered that buried in the muddled details of the affair—deliberately muddled, in certain aspects—was something simple and satisfying: a
very
good story.

I hasten to add, as always, that this is a work of nonfiction. Anything between quotation marks comes from a memoir, letter, telegram, or other historical document. My goal was to try to marshal the many nodes of real-life suspense and, yes, romance that marked the
Lusitania
episode, in a manner that would allow readers to experience it as did people who lived through it at the time (although squeamish readers may wish to skip the details of a certain autopsy that appears late in the narrative).

In any event, I give you now the saga of the
Lusitania
, and the myriad forces, large and achingly small, that converged one lovely day in May 1915 to produce a tragedy of monumental scale, whose true character and import have long been obscured in the mists of history.

E
RIK
L
ARSON

S
EATTLE

A
WORD ABOUT TIME
:
To avoid confusing myself and readers, I’ve converted German submarine time to Greenwich Mean Time. Thus an entry in Kptlt. Walther Schwieger’s War Log for 3:00
P
.
M
. becomes 2:00
P
.
M
. instead
.

A
S FOR
B
RITAIN

S
A
DMIRALTY
:
It is important always to keep in mind that the Admiralty’s top official was the “First Lord,” who served as a kind of chief executive officer; his second-in-command was “First Sea Lord,” essentially the chief operating officer, in charge of day-to-day naval operations.

The Captains are to remember that, whilst they are expected to use every diligence to secure a speedy voyage,
they must run no risk which by any possibility might result in accident to their ships. They will ever bear in mind that the safety of the lives and property entrusted to their care is the ruling principle which should govern them in the navigation of their ships, and no supposed gain in expedition, or saving of time on the voyage, is to be purchased at the risk of accident
.

“R
ULES TO
B
E
O
BSERVED IN THE
C
OMPANY

S
S
ERVICE
,”
THE
C
UNARD
S
TEAM
-S
HIP
C
OMPANY
L
IMITED
, M
ARCH
1913

The first consideration is the safety of the U-boat.

A
DM
. R
EINHARD
S
CHEER
,
Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War
, 1919

A WORD FROM THE CAPTAIN

O
N THE NIGHT OF
M
AY
6, 1915,
AS HIS SHIP APPROACHED
the coast of Ireland, Capt. William Thomas Turner left the bridge and made his way to the first-class lounge, where passengers were taking part in a concert and talent show, a customary feature of Cunard crossings. The room was large and warm, paneled in mahogany and carpeted in green and yellow, with two fourteen-foot-tall fireplaces in the front and rear walls. Ordinarily Turner avoided events of this kind aboard ship, because he disliked the social obligations of captaincy, but tonight was no ordinary night, and he had news to convey.

There was already a good deal of tension in the room, despite the singing and piano playing and clumsy magic tricks, and this became more pronounced when Turner stepped forward at intermission. His presence had the perverse effect of affirming everything the passengers had been fearing since their departure from New York, in the way that a priest’s arrival tends to undermine the cheery smile of a nurse.

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