The luxury liner RMS Lusitania is perhaps one of the most tragic events in naval history. Her sinking by the German submarine U-20 on May 7, 1915 with such a tragic loss of life, angered the world, and began to turn sentiment in the United States clearly toward the allies. When America did enter World War I, the cry of "Remember the Lusitania!", echoed across the battlefields in Europe.

There has never been a shortage of books on the Lusitania, many with diverse opinions on the infamous second explosion that occurred after the liner was torpedoed. Not to mention the debate over whether the liner was carrying illegal contraband or was deliberately put into harms way. The theories are as endless as the seas themselves.

In reading a recent book, Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy, by Diana Preston, all of these theories are played out. This book is very well written out in detail, covering the history of the Cunard Company from its inception, the start of World War I, through the sinking of the liner, and to the debate beyond. Perhaps the most telling part of Prestonís book is her extensive research on the passengers and their fates. The authorís accounts of the final moments of the Lusitania, and the ordeals of those on board struggled for survival are truly haunting, and will touch all those who read them. Preston also does not spare the reader in the manner that many on board met their fates, which may not be for the faint of heart, but gives a clear account of the horrors of warfare.

The author also tackles the events after the sinking, from the accounts of the survivors, to the world wide reaction, in particular the reaction of the United States. Preston also covers the side of Germany in her book from Walter Schwieger in command of the U-20, up to and including Kaiser Wilhelm II.

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Also in detail is covered the debate over how the Lusitania met such a quick end, and all of the proposed theories as to how the great liner sank. All in all, Diana Preston has given perhaps one of the most concise looks into a great naval tragedy, from beginning to end she left nearly no stone unturned in this story. After having read the book, I can clearly state I have learned a great deal more about the Lusitania than I thought possible. For anyone who wishes to learn about the story of this great liner, I strongly urge you to pick up this book.

Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy is 532 pages long, and has a number of photographs throughout. The book is published by Berkley Books, New York. The book was published in 2002. The book retails for $15.00 and can be found at Readers Guide Online, at www.penguin.com/guides.

David LaPell

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