May 06, 2003

I just finished reading a remarkable book, Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy, by Diana Preston. Published in May 2002 the book apparently is now available in paperback, though I read it in the hardcover edition that I bought some time ago.

Let me throw out the customary, but in this case, very well deserved accolades: Brilliant, haunting, captivating, gripping, authoritative, fascinating.

Below are excerpts from the review published by Booklist:

The destruction of the liner Lusitania in 1915 is two stories rolled into one: a Titanic-type tale of personal catastrophes and a still murky diplomatic incident of the first order. And that applies, too, to Preston's brilliant account of the episode that so poisoned American attitudes toward the German Empire, preparing the way for the declaration of war two years later. Her thorough research is elegantly conveyed by a humanizing narrative that covers everyone involved, especially the two captains: William Turner, of the Lusitania, and Walther Schweiger, of the U-20. Both the British and the Germans doctored their files -- leaving it to this astute historian to assess what really happened….A captivating and conscientious narrative of the disaster and its consequences. (Gilbert Taylor)

I've always found the story and history of the Lusitania to be far more interesting than that of the Titanic. I'm probably in a minority with that view, but if everyone who is familiar with the sinking of the Titanic read Preston's book, I'll bet they would change their minds.

Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy is of course available "at fine bookstores everywhere," as they say. I strongly recommend it.


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