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The story of a maritime disaster soon after that of the Titanic but less known
on 21 April 2014
There are several books that examine in part or whole various aspects of the loss of the Lusitania which, unlike that of the Titanic about 3 years earlier, occurred in wartime when it was torpedoed by a German submarine with a remarkably similar loss of lives. Unlike the Titanic, which sank mid-Atlantic in deep waters close to the Arctic Circle, the Lusitania sank a few miles of the Southern Irish coast and in shallow water. Britain and the USA long complained about Germany's action as the given justifications for the sinking were largely proven to be unfounded. Only one was proven to be substantially true, and that related to large quantities of small calibre munitions and partially manufactured shells and fuses that formed part of the cargo.
Much of the book concentrates upon the vessel's final voyage, those on-board including its crew and officers, its famous passengers and those not so famous, whether or not they survived the incident and their respective backgrounds and experiences during their few days on-board. The absence of a significant proportion of its peacetime crew to military service and their less experienced replacements may have further endangered the lives of many. The rescue attempts to recover survivors and their landing in Ireland and the later events in some of those people's lives form an important element and are also explored in great detail. The consequential enquiries into the sinking, political wranglings in Britain, Germany and the US regarding the arguments for and against the attack and the not unrelated later entry into WW1 of US forces are also covered in depth. There is even a discussion of the possible causes of the still-unexplained second explosion and the science of explosives and explosive mixtures and the physics of ship construction as they are (or may be) of relevance and importance.
The book also includes, for reasons of completeness, the several ineffectual attempts to raise the vessel, dives to investigate the wreck in the years between WWI and WWII including the relatively more recent series conducted by Robert Ballard, previously credited with locating and diving upon the wrecks of the Titanic and the WWII German battleship, Bismark. The coverage of the subject is very thorough and rounded covering aspects that others may have ignored or failed to consider, without undue favour to any of the three countries most involved.
A comprehensive List of Sources and a large Bibliography are added for further research, as is a comprehensive Index. Probably the best book overall on the subject.