Reader reviews and comments on Lusitania, plus links to write your own review.

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Triumph, Tragedy, and the End of the Edwardian Age

by Greg King, Penny Wilson

Lusitania by Greg King, Penny Wilson X
Lusitania by Greg King, Penny Wilson
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2015, 400 pages
    Apr 2016, 416 pages


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There are currently 22 reader reviews for Lusitania
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Monica G. (San Antonio, TX)

Starts Out Boring But Gets Better
I read an account of the Lusitania when I was a young girl and had been fascinated by the story. There were so many mysteries surrounding the sinking of this ship and the book answered many of them. But in addition to answering questions regarding the faults that lead up to the ship being torpedoed, we learn about what happened to the survivors of the tragedy. I appreciate how much research these authors put into solving the mysteries surrounding the story and feel as though the authors gave me a front seat to people's lives as the story unfolded. The story is well written and companionable. The first half of the book is somewhat mundane but it's worth the time to read through to the end as the second half of the book follows the lives of the people who survived the tragedy. Definitely a good read!
Melissa M. (Leesburg, FL)

Detailed, beautiful and heartwrenchingly tragic.
We read breifly about this in my history class in high school. History remembers the Titanic well but the Lusitania is another tragic sea disaster that is equally real and full of loss. This book is brilliantly laid out and full of mesmerizing historical detail.
Yolanda M. (Boise, ID)

While clearly heavily researched and informational, I found it impossible to find a good reading flow to this book. Details taken in snapshots and corroborated with copious notes were great in small doses. Characters were definitely brought to life and fleshed out and I often wondered at the way the authors got down to the very thought processes of people on board. If I was taking a college course on life outside the battlefields during the war, this would be the book.
Carolyn S. (Decatur, GA)

The book was very interesting to read, however I think it would have worked better as historical fiction. It seemed like they felt they had to include every quote they found. As a result they couldn't weave in an extended story line which would have made a good book a great book.
Jan H. (Long Beach, CA)

Lusitania - a well researched reference
Lusitania is full of well referenced facts pertaining not only to the ship and it's passengers, but also to the time period which proceeded WW 1. It is quite remarkable to read about the opinions and procedures governing cruise ships, given what we know today. Wealthy passengers and their families had knowledge of printed threat of demise while crossing the Atlantic, and elected to proceed nevertheless. I recommend this book as a reference book, not a good story to read. It is full of facts, but there is not the flow of a good "readable" story.
Power Reviewer
Betty Taylor

Can You Survive the Very Boring First Half of the Book?
The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania has just passed. As a result of this anniversary, there are several new books on the topic. I chose to read this one by Greg King and Penny Wilson. Well, I think I made the wrong choice. This book was so tedious; it was a chore to read. I had to read through just over half of the book before the torpedo hit. So what was in that first half? There were a couple of interesting facts. First, there were warnings from the German embassy in Washington, DC. Travelers were reminded that a state of war existed between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies. They were informed that the waters adjacent to the British Isles were part of the zone of war. The embassy stated that vessels flying with the flag of Great Britain or any of her allies were susceptible to destruction in those waters. However, the warning was ignored and treated as just propaganda. The second interesting fact was that unlike the Titanic that took two hours and 40 minutes to sink, the Lusitania went down in only 18 minutes!

The rest of the first twelve chapters was filled with the minutiae of the biographies of the First Class passengers. It went into detail of what they brought on board with them and the downright foolishness of the rich. For example, Alice Vanderbilt was so arrogant that “she once spent hours being endlessly driven around New York City because she felt it beneath her dignity to give her chauffeur directions.” Perhaps a better title would have been “Lusitania: Lifestyles of the Rich and Arrogant”. I was so bored with their stories that none of them really stuck in my mind. Therefore, I felt no connection once the ship was hit and started sinking.

There were a few people who were nervous about the voyage. Some wills were changed prior to embarkation due to the nervousness. One lady carried her jewel box with her when dining “should disaster strike”. There was definitely tension on board the nearer they came to the British Isles. Some of the passengers thought that an escort would be sent to safely guide them through the danger zone. In fact, the ship’s captain had pretty much said that. But there was no escort. The captain was strict about evacuation drills, but only with the crew. The passengers themselves were never included in a drill, and this was a serious error. The lifebelts were difficult to access, and the passengers were not assigned to lifeboats. This contributed to the chaos that ensued when the ship was indeed torpedoed.

Amongst all the panic, it seemed the crew was more interested in saving their own lives than those of the passengers. Also the crew did not know how to lower the lifeboats. Many of the collapsible lifeboats were unusable as they lacked plugs, oars missing, oarlocks rusted, etc. As the ship slid into the sea, Captain Turner continued to tell people that the boat could not sink.

If you can get through the first half of the book, the last half does pick up. Reading what the survivors endured was interesting. If you know almost nothing about the Lusitania, you may find this book interesting.

Thank you to GoodReads and St, Martin’s Press for an Advance Reading Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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