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Second only to the Titanic's 1912 collision with an iceberg in terms of famous sinkings of ocean liners, the Lusitania, also a British luxury ship, was torpedoed in May_ 1915 by a German submarine and in 18 minutes went under the waves off the coast of Ireland. Because 123 of the dead were American, the destruction of the Lusitania was a step in drawing the U.S. into World War I, already raging in Europe. In 1993 a team working with underwater explorer Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic's remains, used a small submarine to find the wreckage of the Lusitania. Ballard profiles the luxurious life of the Lusitania while in trans-Atlantic service and reconstructs its scandalous wartime "assassination" in this oversize book. And in addition to profuse illustrations of the liner during its life and creepy ones of its carcass lying on the ocean floor, Ballard and his co author address the controversy that has surrounded the Lusitania's sinking from that day to this: Why did it explode so violently when the torpedo hit and then sink so quickly? Ballard's investigation indicates that an "extraordinary combination of circumstances" destined that the Lusitania would not survive its attack. Brad Hooper
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