“Attack the Lusitania!” is author Jerry Borrowman’s latest foray into the historical fiction genre. Set in 1915, this book tells the often lesser-known story of the sinking of the Lusitania, a passenger liner that regularly traveled between Liverpool and New York City.
At this point in World War I, the United States had declared its neutrality in the ongoing conflict between Britain and Germany. However, as the British blockade of supplies being shipped to Germany was causing the civilian population to suffer, the German government and military began their policy of unrestricted submarine warfare; this meant that essentially any ship, regardless of its cargo or nationality, would be sunk if it ventured into the wrong areas of the oceans surrounding Britain and Ireland.
The story centers around main characters Bill and Avery Shafer, who work as part of the crew on the ship, and American businessman Everett Stringham and their experiences aboard the ship before and immediately during and after the sinking. As with many of his other books, the characters that Borrowman inserts into the true facts of history are members of the LDS Church. This book is no different as the reader experiences life and trials right along with the characters. There are moments of torment and hardship at the hands of non-LDS characters as well as intimate moments in which the characters show their human side and experience the power of faith.
According to the author, this book is not just about the history of the Lusitania but also has messages regarding faith and the value of life.
“I hope readers will appreciate that life is temporary and that it is better to resolve problems now, just in case our time to solve them comes to an end,” he says. “A disaster like this reveals the best and the worst in people. Hopefully we will be at our best in hard times.”
Borrowman masterfully weaves the fictional characters in with the true facts of this event that undoubtedly changed the course of history. The research included in the book is extensive and very accurate. The way the story is written makes the book compelling and entertaining, even as the audience is taught about a true moment in history that most won’t remember from previous history lessons. This combination makes the book a literal page-turner, and it is a good read for young and old audiences alike.
A 30-minute documentary DVD "The Attack on the Luistania" includes commentary by Borrowman, Eric G. Swedin of Weber State University, Rom Smelzer of the University of Utah and Sherman L. Fleek, command historian at West Point, as they look at the events surrounding the sinking of the Luisitania and its place in history.
Landon Walters is a history and political science major currently studying at Salt Lake Community College and is an avid sports fan. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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