‘A way inside their heads’

The German attack on the Cunard liner Lusitania 100 years ago proved to be a pivotal event in the First World War. Now the story of its loss has been re-imagined RMS Lusitania sinking rowby a novelist who presents a new theory about the decision to target the passengership.

2015 will see the centenary of the sinking of the Lusitania, a British-flagged  liner  which  succumbed to a torpedo attack  by a German submarine in  the  First  World War. The incident is seen as significant because it presaged the  widespread changes in the practice of warfare  during the 20th century — changes which increasingly saw ‘enemy’ civilians become fair  game  as  military targets. At the time, though, the American people were  said  to have been so shocked at the attack on  a  passenger ship  carrying innocent women and  children that the incident prompted the neutral USA to join the war on the side of the Allies.

The analysis  of events these days tends to be more nuanced, not least because the Americans did not actually become involved in combat until the Axis powers threatened them more directly in 1917. And some feel that the Lusitania was a legitimate military target by any  standards, given the likelihood that she had been carrying US-made  ammunition and/or weaponry destined for use by British forces.

Author Greg Taylor has come up with an even stronger theory about why the  Lusitania could have been a target,  and in a new novel, Lusitania R.E.X, he cleverly weaves together fact and fiction to make a plausible case that the vessel could  have been  carrying secret  rocket  technology — the forerunner  to  the  V1  and  V2 ‘flying bombs’  of  the Second World War and of all human space exploration.

It’s a good yarn in the Dan Brown  vein, with glamorous settings, wartime peril, politic machinations, millionaires. aristocrats and royalty, and a generous helping of sex and romance.


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