Letter to Hal D

Dear Hal,

Of course, as you protest, it’s quite possible that the US would have entered World War 1 in April, 1917 even had the truth been told about the Lusitania in 1915. However, in that case, the USA would have entered the war despite the Lusitania and not because of it. Also, it would have entered the war on the side of one warring empire against another rather than on the side of civilization against barbarism. Those stakes would have been harder to sell the American public.


I should also point out that it is now known that Edith Clavell was indeed a spy. The British denied that in 1915, and turned her execution into an international human rights martyrdom. But a recent program on the BBC brought to light long-suppressed evidence that Clavell had run a spy ring for the British and the British “jolly well” knew it at the time and lied just as they lied about the Lucy.


If you don’t study history, you’re doomed to repeat it.  In my lifetime, Americans have blundered into two unnecessary and useless wars (Vietnam, Iraq) precisely for this reason. Deadly Secret of the Lusitania gives Americans the history they need to become more skeptical of war propaganda. Deadly Secret of the Lusitania is about the propaganda and lies that concealed the truth about the Lusitania’s sinking from Americans in 1915 and 1916, thus pushing the nation into war in 1917. The truth about the Lusitania was America’s first casualty in World War 1.


Obviously the USA has the right to defend itself against aggression and to maintain armed forces for that purpose. I fully approve of all that. However, spreading lies about bogus attacks is not self-defense and is unjust and cynical as well as destructive of the people’s right to know.  Americans should not be suckers.


Yours truly,

Ivan Light

Categories: Author Commentary.
About Ivan Light

Professor Emeritus of Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Over a long career, he has published many books and articles dealing with immigration to the United States, immigrant entrepreneurs, organized crime, big cities, and American social history.

His academic publication record and many downloads are available on his university webpage (click here).

Deadly Secret of the Lusitania is his first book of fiction.