One of the most-anticipated books of the season, Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, (RH/Crown; RH and BOT Audio; RH Large Print) arrives next week. Known for his skill in spinning a great narrative from dimly-remembered bits of history, Larson tackles the story of the German sinking of the luxury liner the Lusitania, an act that eventually brought the US into WW I.
It gets triple advance coverage including the cover of Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, an early review from Janet Maslin in the daily New York Times and the main review in Entertainment Weekly’s Book Section (not online yet).
Surprisingly, both the Book Review and Entertainment Weekly find most fascinating the villain of the piece, the German U-boat commander who gave the order to torpedo the luxury liner, sinking it in 18 minutes and killing 1,200.
It will hardly matter that both Maslin and the Book Review report that this is a lesser book than the author’s previous titles. As Maslin says, “Larson is one of the modern masters of popular narrative nonfiction. In book after book, he’s proved adept at rescuing weird and wonderful gothic tales from the shadows of history.” Check your holds.
NPR also offers an “Exclusive First Read” and and interview with Larson is scheduled for the upcoming Weekend Edition Saturday.
Larson’s video, below, includes archival film of the Lusitania.