Book number: 94367 Product format: Paperback Author: A. A. AND MARY HOEHLING

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Bibliophile price £7.00
Published price £12.95

This classic account of the event that changed the course of World War I was first published in 1956 and revised in 1996. The huge Cunard passenger ship Lusitania was torpedoed on 7 May 1915 and sank quickly, with a loss of 1198 lives. With her revolutionary turbines she had pushed transatlantic speeds up several knots, and her elevators, complete electrification and rudimentary air conditioning set a standard of comfort well into the following decades. The disaster brought America into the war, although the authors dismiss suggestions that Churchill suppressed information about nearby U-boats in order to bring about this outcome. Rumours of gold bullion, however, have never been satisfactorily answered. The U-20 captained by Kapitanleutnant Schwieger struck near the Irish peninsula of Kinsale. The book follows a wide range of passengers including Charles A. Plamonden and his wife, a machinery manufacturer, who along with several other passengers received a mysterious telegram warning him not to travel. Businessman Edward B. Bowen cancelled his sailing because of a premonition. The German embassy in Washington issued a warning about sailing into British waters, but it was dismissed by the manager of Dewar's whisky, who was also travelling, as "tommyrot". Mme de Page was a charity worker raising funds for Belgian relief, while the fabulously wealthy Alfred Vanderbilt was travelling along with the playwright Justus Forman. The realities of the war had not sunk in to many Americans, and the author alternates scenes aboard the U-20 with social life on board the Lusitania. There was a nursery for first class passengers, though the majority of children were in second. Six year old Ellen Smith, rescued by a Canadian journalist, lost her mother, father and sister. Survivor Elizabeth Duckworth, a steerage passenger returning to her home in Blackburn, jumped from one lifeboat to another in order to help with the rowing. Vivid descriptions of the sinking come from the eyewitness testimonies of survivors, for instance Theodate Pope or Margaret Mackworth who jumped 60 feet into the sea, while the experiences of those waiting for news are poignantly described. 259pp, paperback, photos.

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ISBN 9781568330785

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