On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania, King and Wilson (The Resurrection of the Romanovs: Anastasia, Anna Anderson, and the World's Greatest Royal Mystery, 2010) dig for clues to unanswered questions.
The details surrounding how the elusive information disappeared uncover guilt on all sides. The British Admiralty had to protect the fact that they were transporting contraband in a ship sailing without a flag. The local coroner’s inquest, the British Board of Trade’s hearing and a U.S. District Court all dismissed charges of negligence. The admiralty never sent escort to protect the Lusitania as she entered British waters, and the captain acted contrary to orders. Even the journal of the U-boat captain has been altered. Did he fire one or two torpedoes? The German government published a warning as the Lusitania was about to sail from New York, proclaiming that ships misusing neutral flags found in British waters would be subject to destruction. Prior to this statement, the “Cruiser Rules” codified by The Hague in 1899 required enemy ships to give warning, demand a search for contraband and allow the ship to be abandoned before sinking it. In January 1915, England ordered her merchant vessels to sail under false flags and carry munitions, knowing Germany would respond in kind. First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill referred to the Lusitania as “live bait,” hoping to draw the Americans into the war. The ship was the last of the great Edwardian ships, as her upper-class passengers showed, some of whom had actually been warned by Germans not to sail. The authors devote inordinate portions of the text to biographies of passengers and still more to the lives of the survivors, but their exploration of the facts surrounding the mystery is the primary pleasure of the book.
Those who relish tales of the rich and famous will appreciate this book, but the real joy is in the authors’ detective work and attention to detail.