Erik Larson is a favorite author in my book group. We have read nearly all of his work. Several people have been lucky enough to hear him speak. He has a reputation for being enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and gracious. What I have also learned in conversation with other readers is how everyone has his or her own favorite, for a variety of reasons.
There was immediate interest in Dead Wake from its release, and so many people raved about how good it is. I first tried the print version, but for my book group I decided to try the audio version. I was not disappointed. Although I have forgotten the name of the gentleman reading it, I was immediately drawn into the time period. Readers and listeners can’t help but think of the sinking of the Titanic, which happened just three years earlier. But in 1915, it was wartime. From history class, everyone remembers that things don’t end well for the Lusitania.
However, through Larson’s meticulous research –another of his trademarks as an author–he makes the time period, the people, and the politics come to life. You’ll learn much more than you did in school. Suspense is maintained so strongly throughout that you can’t put it down, and you are somehow hoping for a different outcome until the very end.
Unlike Larson’s previous books, no photos accompany the print text. Perhaps Larson would prefer that readers see events in their minds in this case. The book also makes readers think about what choices they would make in certain situations.
The Acknowledgments and Source Notes are also interesting and worthwhile reading.