Books and Bagels
The Books and Bagels book group will continue discussing Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson (Broadway, $17.00). On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was the fastest liner then in service and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, a British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history. Larson tells the story thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era.