Left Coast Writers® Launch
In 1915, a German U-Boat sank the British passenger liner Lusitania. Many Americans, including women and children, were among the 1,200 dead, so the crime caused a storm of protest in America, and helped plunge the U.S. into World War I. In this gripping novel, an insurance investigator and his fiancée help a murdered longshoreman s widow who’s been unjustly denied her husband s life insurance. Finding themselves in possession of documents detailing the Lusitania s secret cargo, the couple are targeted by German and British spies, Irish republicans, a rogue socialist, and the newly-formed FBI, all wanting to use the suppressed material for their own purposes.
Ivan Light knew for a long time that the story of the Lusitania was a rollicking-good yarn that Americans would enjoy, but for many years he did nothing about it. However, when he retired from the faculty of the University of California, he began work on the long-deferred project. Deadly Secret of the Lusitania was the result. Light brought to the task of writing a historical fiction an unusual bag of qualifications. In many years of researching and writing about immigration and American social history, he acquired a strong knowledge of American history in this period, as well as a capacity to relate social history to the momentous decision to enter what contemporaries called the Great War and what we now bitterly call World War I, the parent and cause of World War II, the Cold War, the Holocaust, the Stalin Gulag, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, and even the Iraq War. Also, having grown up on the lower west side of Manhattan Island, not far from the Lusitania’s berth, Light knew the area’s landmarks and geography, the subway system, and, more important, he grew up with, knew, understood, and sympathized with the people of Irish and Italian descent who lived there at mid-century.
So much for Ivan’s capability, but his motivation to write owes much to his mother. She grew up in the German/Hungarian colony of St. Louis, Missouri, during the First World War, and told sometimes-humorous, sometimes-indignant stories about repression and public hostility to German-Americans. For example, at age five she was expelled from the St. Louis Public Library for speaking German. Deadly Secret of the Lusitania assigns this incident to the niece of Lotte Maria Schlegel, but it was in origin a true occurrence. Also, and more important, Ivan Light’s mother married a World War I veteran in 1932. They were madly in love, but he died three years later of a war-related disability at age thirty-five. She never forgot him or forgave Woodrow Wilson for inducing a naive young man to volunteer for “the war to end wars.” So, thanks to her, Light’s attention was focused from a young age on the First World War, its causes, and its dreadful consequences, both international and personal. In a sense, the anger, disappointment, and bitterness of that experience, now a century behind us, are still alive in his memory and heart.
Light is Professor Emeritus of Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of seven books, of which five address ethnic minority and immigrant entrepreneurship. He received the “Distinguished Career Award” from International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association in 2000 in recognition of his pioneering publications dealing with immigrant and ethnic minority entrepreneurship. His Deflecting Immigration received the “best book” award from the International Migration Sector of the American Sociological Association in 2006. He has published many articles in major social science and business journals. Many of them are available for downloading from his university webpage.