In the first ten months of the First World War, the neutral countries went to great lengths to maintain their neutrality. While individual opinions differed, the various public moods were largely indeterminate regarding which side was favored. That all changed on May 7, 1915 when a German U-boat torpedoed and sank the passenger ship Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. The ship sank so fast that 1,198 of the 1,959 people on board were killed. This event turned public opinion in the neutral countries against the German side and almost led to the United States entering the war in 1915. Many famous people were passengers on the ship, adding additional fuel to the fires of war. This book is a recapitulation of the last voyage as well as an explanation of the historical context. Descriptions of some of the people that were on the ship and the tactics that were and should have been used to protect the ship from submarines are also included. The Lusitania sank in only eighteen minutes, which was the primary reason for the high casualty rates as there was almost complete panic among the passengers and crew. Like the sinking of the Titanic, many things had to go wrong for there to be such a high death toll. For example, the explosion destroyed the steering controls so the captain's order to beach the ship could not be carried out. In many ways, the sinking of the Lusitania was one of the last instances of chivalry being involved in mass warfare. There were objections to the sinking expressed in the nations of Germany's allies and even within Germany itself. One of the officers aboard the submarine that fired the torpedo was court-martialed for refusing the order to fire on a ship carrying women and children. This book would be an excellent supplement to any detailed course on the history of World War I.
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