Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy

Bloomsbury Publishing USA
5
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On May 7, 1915, toward the end of her 101st eastbound crossing, from New York to Liverpool, England, R.M.S. Lusitania-pride of the Cunard Line and one of the greatest ocean liners afloat-became the target of a terrifying new weapon and a casualty of a terrible new kind of war. Sunk off the southern coast of Ireland by a torpedo fired from the German submarine U-20, she exploded and sank in eighteen minutes, taking with her some twelve hundred people, more than half of the passengers and crew. Cold-blooded, deliberate, and unprecedented in the annals of war, the sinking of the Lusitania shocked the world. It also jolted the United States out of its neutrality and hastened the nation's entry into World War I.

In her riveting account of this enormous and controversial tragedy, Diana Preston recalls both a pivotal moment in history and a remarkable human drama. The story of the Lusitania is a window on the maritime world of the early twentieth century: the heyday of the luxury liner, the first days of the modern submarine, and the climax of the decades-long German-British rivalry for supremacy of the Atlantic. Above all, it is the story of the passengers and crew on that fateful voyage-a story of terror and cowardice, of self-sacrifice and heroism, of death and miraculous survival.
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About the author

Diana Preston is the author of The Boxer Rebellion: A First Rate Tragedy; and The Road to Culloden Moor. A "fascinating" storyteller "with an obvious addiction to the details of history" (The Washington Post), she lives in London, England, with her husband, Michael.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing USA
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Published on
May 5, 2015
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Pages
544
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ISBN
9781632860859
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / Military / World War I
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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On December 26, 1898, Marie Curie announced the discovery of radium and observed that "radioactivity seems to be an atomic property." A mere 47 years later, "Little Boy"exploded over Hiroshima. Before the Fallout is the epic story of the intervening half century, during which an exhilarating quest to unravel the secrets of the material world revealed how to destroy it, and an open, international, scientific adventure transmuted overnight into a wartime sprint for the bomb.

Weaving together history, science, and biography, Diana Preston chronicles a human chain reaction of scientists and leaders whose discoveries and decisions forever changed our lives. The early decades of the 20th century brought Einstein's relativity theory, Rutherford's discovery of the atomic nucleus, and Heisenberg's quantum mechanics, and scientists of many nations worked together to tease out the secrets of the atom. Only 12 years before Hiroshima, one leading physicist dismissed the idea of harnessing energy from atoms as "moonshine." Then, on the eve of World War II, the power of atomic fission was revealed, alliances were broken, friendships sundered, and science co-opted by world events.

Preston interviewed the surviving scientists, and she offers new insight into the fateful wartime meeting between Heisenberg and Bohr, along with a fascinating conclusion examining what might have happened had any number of events occurred differently. She also provides a rare portrait of Hiroshima before the blast.

As Hiroshima's 60th anniversary approaches, Before the Fallout compels us to consider the threats and moral dilemmas we face in our still dangerous world.
#1 New York Times Bestseller

From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.
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.
A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller!
Emma Watson's Our Shared Shelf Bookclub Selection - May/June 2018

"the glowing ghosts of the radium girls haunt us still."—NPR Books

The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger

The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women's cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America's early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...

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