Take Ten: Lusitania

One hundred years ago today, a German U-Boat torpedoed and sank the RMS Lusitania, killing 1,198 passengers and crew. The rapidity with which it sank – in just twenty minutes – shocked the world, adding to the growing anti-German sentiment in the U.S. Although America did not declare war until two years later, the Lusitania disaster was a huge catalyst in bringing the U.S. into World War I.

The following titles all reference the Lusitania, either by offering a look at its history or its place in maritime history, or by serving as a focal point for another story.

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NONFICTION:

Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea – Robert K. Massie

  • The author continues his study of early twentieth-century military and naval history in an analysis of the confrontation between the two most powerful navies in the world as the British and Germans clashed at sea during World War I.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania – Erik Larson

  • Larson has a wonderful way of creating a very readable, accessible story of a time, place, and event. We get three sides of the global story–the U-boat commander, British Admiralty and President Wilson–but what really elevates this book are the affecting stories of individual crew and passengers.

Exploring the Lusitania: Probing the Mysteries of the Sinking that Changed History – Robert D. Ballard

  • Explores the controversies surrounding the sinking of the cruise ship in 1915.

Ghost Liners – Robert D. Ballard

  • Depicts five famous ships that have been lost at sea in modern times, the Empress of Ireland, the Lusitania, the Andrea Doria, the Brittanic, and the Titanic. (Children’s)

Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy – Diana Preston

  • An account of the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania offers a portrait of early twentieth-century maritime history and the terrible impact of the disaster on the course of World War I.

Lusitania: Triumph, Tragedy, and the End of the Edwardian Age – Greg King and Penny Wilson

  • Authors Greg King and Penny Wilson resurrect this lost, glittering world to show the golden age of travel and illuminate the most prominent of Lusitania’s passengers. Rarely was an era so glamorous; rarely was a ship so magnificent; and rarely was the human element of tragedy so quickly lost to diplomatic maneuvers and militaristic threats.

Sea Hunters – Clive Cussler

  • Relates the stories of ten dramatic shipwrecks, including those of the Lusitania, the Lexington and the Charleston.

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FICTION:

The American Heiress – Dorothy Eden

  • After surviving the Lusitania sinking, Hetty takes the jewels and identity of her stepsister and becomes involved with a British lord.

Shots at Sea: A Houdini and Nate Mystery – Tom Lalicki

  • While traveling to England with his mother and great-aunt on the ocean liner Lusitania in 1911, thirteen-year-old Nate, delighted to find that the Houdinis are also on board, finds himself involved in another dangerous adventure as he and Houdini try to find the man responsible for attempting to assassinate another passenger–President Theodore Roosevelt. (Children’s)

Star of Istanbul – Robert Olen Butler

  • Christopher Marlowe (“Kit”) Cobb, an American war correspondent reporting on World War I, has been tasked to follow a man named Brauer, a German intellectual and possible covert SS agent, into perilous waters aboard the ship Lusitania, as the man is believed to hold information vital to the war effort. Aboard the Lusitania on its fateful voyage, Cobb becomes smitten with famed actress Selene Bourgani, who for some reason appears to be working with German Intelligence.

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