Monday, July 27, 2015

496 (2015 #53). Exploring the Lusitania

by Robert D. Ballard,
with Spencer Dunmore

I borrowed this book from the library because I'd just finished listening to Erik Larson's Dead Wake, and reviewing the print copy of that book, and was disappointed to find only one illustration of this famous ship.  I didn't know much about the Lusitania itself and wanted to learn more.

The book does not disappoint.  It is full of period photographs and illustrations of the ship (and related materials, such as postcards, ads, and menus), and the aftermath of its sinking, as well as people on the ship.  There are also maps and diagrams to help the reader understand the layout of the ship, its final journey (and the journey of the German submarine that sunk it).

Robert Ballard is best known as the man who explored the sunken Titanic, and there are a number of pages in the last quarter of the book devoted to his expedition to the Lusitania wreck in 1993.  This narrative and the accompanying photographs are also extremely interesting, especially the "then and now" comparison photographs of parts of the ship from 1904 to 1915 with the sunken part in 1993.  Ballard's theory that coal dust in empty bins ignited and caused the second, post-torpedo explosion (not any contraband or a boiler or a conspiracy) that ultimately sunk the ship.

The book ends with a chronology of the ship, acknowledgments and photo/illustration credits, a bibliography, and an index.  Definitely recommended to anyone who wants to learn more about the Lusitania, whose sinking ultimately led to the United States entry into World War I.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[This book was borrowed from and returned to the Hood County Library.]

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