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Acadiana Lifestyle

Books: History is a Mystery

05/01/2015 10:11AM ● By Aimee Cormier

By Ray Saadi—Book Editor

DEAD WAKE By Erik Larson, Crown Publishing $28.00

She was beautiful, sleek, fast and longer than two football fields. On May 1, 1915, the Lusitania set out for Liverpool from New York. This voyage defied many warnings, including newspaper ads placed by the Germans, that sailing in war waters risked being torpedoed. Captain William Thomas Turner chose to take that risk relying on the gentleman restrictions that protected civilian ships, a constraint not honored by Walther Schwieger, the German Captain of Unterseeboot-20.  Schwieger firing one torpedo sank the Lusitania in 18 minutes, killing 1,198 passengers and crew members.  Among the dead were 123 Americans, which provoked America to finally enter the war, but not until two years later. This infuriated Winston Churchill, who complained that President Woodrow Wilson’s delay caused thousands of unnecessary British deaths. Larson’s incredible research and writing makes this, despite our knowing the outcome, quite suspenseful. 

THE IRISH OF NEW ORLEANS By Laura D. Kelley, UL Press $24.95

Dr. Kelly surprises with the mostly unheralded story of the Irish in New Orleans. Beginning with the arrival of Lieutenant General Alejandro “Bloody” to quell a rebellion, she takes us on a tour of the Irish Channel and the surprising story of the Redemptorists Fathers who acted as a “bank” for immigrant parishioners; the magnificent St. Patrick’s, “Ole St. Pat’s” church on Camp Street and the other churches catering to the Irish and their burial customs and cemeteries. 

Hungry? Visit one of the countless restaurants and pubs; Brennan’s ring a bell? The Irish House, Finn McCool’s and all the rest are included. Singer, Betsy McGovern covers music of and by the Irish. Kelly wraps up this piece of literature with an album of shining Irish faces. Beautifully photographed by Carrie Lee Pierson. 

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