Book Review-‘The ‘Lusitania’ Sinking: Eyewitness accounts from survivors by A. Richards

By Matthew S. Seligmann, published December 2020


This volume begins with a question, why another book on the Lusitania sinking? The justification promptly provided is that this account is one composed largely from the information and ideas contained in first-hand passenger testimony. In other words, this book more than any previous one forefronts the experience of the people present during the vessel’s final and ill-fated voyage. To this end, a not insubstantial number of different primary sources have been consulted and the result is that the text is punctuated by a useful range of individual perspectives. If this emphasis on the personal provides a general lens on the topic, a very particular focus is given by weaving the resulting narrative, insofar as this can be done, around one specific passenger and his family, namely Preston Pritchard, a 29-year-old medical student intent on returning to Britain from Canada. Pritchard, who lost is life when the Lusitania was torpedoed, had composed a number of letters to his family before and during the voyage and they, in turn, corresponded widely with various relevant persons after the sinking seeking news – any news – as to the fate of their lost relative. This archive has recently become available and gives a unique compass bearing to the book, one tinged inevitably with a profound sense of sadness and loss…

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Filed under: WW1
Subjects include: Ocean Liners & Passenger Craft

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