An objective and enthralling account of the sinking of the Lusitania, which unravels many of the myths and, for the first time, explains the true significance of that terrible disaster. The saga of the Lusitania is one of the most remarkable in the annals of maritime history. State-of-the-art when she went into service and the first express liner to be equipped with steam turbines, she outclassed all her rivals. She triumphantly restored British supremacy on the North Atlantic passenger routes and became an acknowledged commercial success; she was highly popular with her regular passengers. Her sinking in May 1915 by a German U-boat, with heavy loss of life, was at that time the most savage attack on civilians in the course of war, and was widely denounced in allied and neutral countries. From that day her loss has become encrusted with legends (including conspiracy theories), many of them created by German propaganda. In this new book David Ramsay has unraveled those myths and legends and tells a clear and compelling saga of terrible maritime disaster and clashes among three powerful nations. It is a story of potentates and presidents, ambassadors and ministers of state, bankers, shipping magnates, spies, and, not least, Captain William Turner, who had to defend himself against charges of incompetence and fight for his reputation. Based on detailed research, this new book almost certainly contains the most objective account of the history of the liner and the circumstances surrounding her sinking. The sinking of Lusitania, which took a mere eighteen minutes, led to a loss of life comparable with the Titanic disaster, and the ramifications were felt across Europe and America; this masterly telling of the story will intrigue the general reader as much as it does the historian and enthusiast.
The SS Lusitania entered service with Cunard in 1907. The first transatlantic express liner powered by marine turbines, she could complete the Liverpool-New York crossing in five days and had a top speed of 25 knots. She restored the British supremacy of the key North Atlantic route which the Germans had seized. All this ended on 7 May 1915 when she was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank 18 minutes later with the loss of 1,198 passengers and crew (interestingly 39% of those aboard survived whereas only 32% of those on the Titanic survived despite the latter taking 2 hours, 40 minutes to sink.) The Author concentrates not just on the disaster but its aftermath including the political recriminations and the inquiry. As a result of the loss of 128 American citizens the Germans signed an agreement not to attack US shipping. Their breach of this was a major contributory reason, along with the Zimmermann Telegram, why the USA entered the War. This is a fascinating study of a major shipping disaster with profound consequences