Within the age…

we cannot transcend all the errors that characterize our time.

Archive for June 2016

Dead Wake – A Review

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“…Schwieger’s attack on the Lusitania succeeded because of a chance confluence of forces. Even the tiniest alteration in a single vector could have saved the ship.” – Erik Larson

Dead Wake is the story of the events surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania. I say the events because Erik Larson weaves a tale that encompasses much more than just the sinking itself. As in his other works, Larson tells a compelling story by combining his own narrative mixed with direct quotations from pages upon pages of sources. He brings the Lusitania to life through the eyes of the witnesses that were there, telling a historical story in an interesting way, which can’t be said for most historians.

What follows are a few observations on Larson’s work as a storyteller, and the nature of mankind as illustrated in the events surrounding the Lusitania. Carry on if you don’t mind observations on the text itself.

1. Larson does a great job illustrating everything that had to align in just such a way that the Lusitania was sunk: Turner had to wait an extra two hours to receive additional passengers, their voyage being slowed by Turner’s own niece needing to disembark, the fact that they had run consistently at a slower pace than the Lusitania was capable of going, Schwieger’s miscalculation of the boat’s speed… Overall, as Larson says, if only the tiniest alteration had been made at any one point, the ship could have been saved.

2. The difficulty of wartime intelligence is also illustrated well. At a couple of significant moments it’s mentioned that the men behind Room 40 had found what was an important piece of intelligence, for example the fact that Schwieger had only used one torpedo to sink the Lusitania and not two as was commonly believed, and determined not to act on it or provide this information elsewhere for fear of revealing the fact that they had intercepted and decoded German transmissions, or potentially did not act on some of this information for purely pragmatic/political purposes.

3. Larson also demonstrates the overall assumption that the Germans wouldn’t sink a passenger liner. He mentions multiple times that it was a common belief that the Germans wouldn’t sink to such a level as shooting at a passenger ship. Even President Wilson afterward said, “…how could any nation calling itself civilized purpose so horrible a thing.” Yet, even though Schwieger expressed some regret afterward, in the end it was just a job. It’s a jarring illustration of the depravity of mankind, what we can justify, and how simple it sometimes is to justify choices that are truly horrific.

I received this book as part of the blogging for books program in exchange for my review.

Source: Dead Wake by Erik Larson


Written by Agrammatos

June 28, 2016 at 2:46 AM

Posted in General

Right Tempers

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“Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is a proof of this.” – Wesley (as quoted by A.W. Tozer)

Source: The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

Written by Agrammatos

June 22, 2016 at 1:35 AM

Posted in General

The Self Taken Hostage

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“But I sensed it then, and a strange apprehension came over me, like falling in love – the apprehension of the self taken hostage by an outside force.” -Roger Scruton

In Scruton’s book, On Hunting, he describes his initial exposure to hunting when while on a calm country ride his pony decided for them both to join an on-going fox hunt. Scruton later pursued the hunt of his own volition. He noted that the valley that he had often ridden through had a different quality while on the hunt: “…never before had it seemed so tranquil and removed…”

He describes how he had perceived as an Academic “…the mass-produced kitsch of lampshades, table mats, and tea-trays celebrating `the sport of our anscestors`.” However, on that day, “…what I observed was neither kitsch nor cliché. There by the willow-cumbered banks I saw the moving image of eternity.”

It’s this moment that Scruton describes that this strange apprehension came over him, like love, the self overwhelmed and taken hostage by an outside force.

The man who has experienced the self taken hostage by an outside force, is the man that stands for the preservation of that force itself, if only to try to keep that power alive for the sake of others.

Source:On Hunting by Roger Scruton

Written by Agrammatos

June 5, 2016 at 11:17 AM

Posted in General