Friday, June 19, 2015

Award Finalist (and Winner!) Greg Taylor

Lusitania R.E.X, an historical novel about the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in the early days of World War I, is Greg Taylor’s first novel and a very remarkable debut. Taylor says he was drawn to accounts of the Lusitania, fascinated by the collapse of Edwardian society, the epitome of elegance, in the brutal warfare their own industrial success had made possible. Taylor's passion for history and research earned him access to private family archives never before opened to a writer, and has taken him to numerous sites that appear in the book, from the palaces of the Tsar, the Kaiser and the Vanderbilts to the battlefields of Ypres.

Lusitania R.E.X explores the events and influences leading up to the sinking, with a well argued theory as to the cause of a second, unexplained blast that doomed the ship after it had been struck by a single German torpedo on May 7th, 1915. The Lusitania sank eighteen minutes after that second, internal blast. Taylor’s book is brimming with convincingly drawn spies and secret societies, superweapons, obscure Russian physicists and playboy millionaires, including Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I, the main character of the novel.

Since the time of her sinking, the Lusitania has been wrapped in mystery and intrigue. Experts continue to debate the cause of that second explosion. Imperial Germany immediately claimed the ship was loaded with explosives destined for the front.

Lusitania R.E.X weaves fiction around the known facts to create a plausible explanation of unresolved questions surrounding her sinking and explores how modern, mechanized war, with its zeppelin raids and poison gas, brought to an end the gilded age of Newport, Edwardian England and Imperial Germany and Russia.

The Nautilus Telegraph wrote: “Through its fictionalised treatment of historical events, Lusitania R.E.X tries to get inside the head of Vanderbilt, exploring the reasons why this rather indolent heir to a fortune could have developed into someone capable of heroism. In the best blockbuster tradition, the book features plenty of romance and glamour, as well as a Dan Brown-style conspiracy posited by the author as the real reason why the German navy attacked the ship in the First World War.”

Originally from Colorado, Greg Taylor has made London his home since 2000; he divides his investment banking and asset management career between New York and London. Lusitania R.E.X was written while the author was founding and developing his own investment management firm, Sequoia Investment Management.

Undergraduate studies in history at Williams College in Massachusetts and the University of Durham in England influenced Taylor's writing of Lusitania R.E.X., as did his work at the School of Management at Yale University, where he lived just one block from The Tomb, the headquarters of the Skull and Bones Club, which figures prominently in the book.

During his research, Taylor came to know descendants of some of the principal characters in Lusitania R.E.X. He spent some time with Alfred Vanderbilt III, including accompanying Alfred and his wife on a visit to his grandfather’s Great Camp Sagamore in the Adirondacks, described with first-hand vividness in the book. Alfred Vanderbilt I, who inherited one of the largest fortunes of America’s Gilded Age, perished on the Lusitania after giving his lifebelt to a woman passenger.

The Duke of Marlborough also took an interest in Lusitania R.E.X. His father and grandfather are significant in the story through the 9th Duke’s marriage to Consuelo Vanderbilt. The 11th Duke, whose middle name is Vanderbilt, wrote the forward to Lusitania R.E.X.

Taylor also was able to sail on the Cunard Line’s “Lusitania Remembered” Voyage in May of 2015 and participated in marking the 100th anniversary over the site of the Lusitania wreck which lies beneath 260 feet of water eleven miles off the coast of Ireland. Taylor had the pleasure of meeting a number of descendants of Lusitania victims and survivors and is hosting an upcoming event with Lady Helen Gaskell, the descendant of a survivor.

Lusitania R.E.X is published by Filament (hard bound and paperback) and Autharium (electronic formats) and is available on the book website, Amazon, and from other retailers and your local bookshop.

The book website is
Facebook page:
Taylor’s Twitter is @GregTaylor_LUSI

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