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Thunderstruck

Larson, Erik (Book - 2006)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Thunderstruck
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A true story of love, murder, and the end of the world's "great hush" In Thunderstruck , Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men--Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication--whose lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time. Set in Edwardian London and on the stormy coasts of Cornwall, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, Thunderstruck evokes the dynamism of those years when great shipping companies competed to build the biggest, fastest ocean liners, scientific advances dazzled the public with visions of a world transformed, and the rich outdid one another with ostentatious displays of wealth. Against this background, Marconi races against incredible odds and relentless skepticism to perfect his invention: the wireless, a prime catalyst for the emergence of the world we know today. Meanwhile, Crippen, "the kindest of men," nearly commits the perfect crime. With his superb narrative skills, Erik Larson guides these parallel narratives toward a relentlessly suspenseful meeting on the waters of the North Atlantic. Along the way, he tells of a sad and tragic love affair that was described on the front pages of newspapers around the world, a chief inspector who found himself strangely sympathetic to the killer and his lover, and a driven and compelling inventor who transformed the way we communicate. Thunderstruck presents a vibrant portrait of an era of séances, science, and fog, inhabited by inventors, magicians, and Scotland Yard detectives, all presided over by the amiable and fun-loving Edward VII as the world slid inevitably toward the first great war of the twentieth century. Gripping from the first page, and rich with fascinating detail about the time, the people, and the new inventions that connect and divide us, Thunderstruck is splendid narrative history from a master of the form.
Authors: Larson, Erik
Title: Thunderstruck
Publisher: New York : Crown, c2006
Characteristics: 463 p
Notes: Maps on lining papers
Contents: The mysterious passengers
Ghosts and gunfire
Betrayal
Secrets
An inspector calls
The finest time
Pursuit by thunder
Epilogue: into the ether
ISBN: 1400080665
Branch Call Number: 364.1523 CRI LAR
Statement of Responsibility: Erik Larson
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references and index
Subject Headings: Telegraph, Wireless Marconi system History Murder Investigation Great Britain Murder England London Murderers England London Biography Crippen, Hawley Harvey, 1862-1910
Topical Term: Telegraph, Wireless
Murder
Murder
Murderers
MARC Display»

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Oct 21, 2013
  • Jane60201 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An excellent book. The switches in themes were a little distracting but both themes were well researched and written.

May 02, 2012
  • gwsuperfan rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Thunderstruck was great, although I'm sure some folks will be irritated by the focus on the development of wireless telegraphy distracting from the core story of the allegedly murderous doctor. This seems to be a pattern in Larson's books: the bulk of the book seems to focus more on tangentially related things. Still, I found all aspects of the book fascinating.

Mar 14, 2012
  • Dub rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Excellent read. Historical drama and tying the two separate stories together in the end was extremely effective. Well written and a good page turner.

Jan 30, 2012
  • ownedbydoxies rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Interesting book, but flipping from one person to the other throughout, made it a little difficult to really find interest in either individual. His other books are better, in my opinion. That being said, this still was well-written and researched.

This book was not nearly as interesting as Devil in the White City. I am an electrical engineer and even I found this one easy to put down. The story just isn't that interesting, and the writing doesn't keep the reader's attention.

Sep 17, 2007
  • gailygirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

For someone who finds it hard to read non-fiction, this was a page turner. Written in the style of The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester where we have two stories being told "at once," knowing that sooner or later they will interconnect. Erik Larson decides to interweave the story of the Crippen murder and Marconi's story of commercializing wireless telegraphy. Although this truly was a fascinating read, I found the "back-and-forthing" less effective here as an architecture. The reader has to go back and forth too often - one chapter at a time and the thread is often lost (maybe my fault?). The author all-too-often would use the stylistic technique of hinting at things to come, as in "and this would prove to be significant," or "little did he know that ...." but I found that the "tie-up" didn't happen quickly enough for me to remember these little hints or cues. Nevertheless, a great read, full of interesting facts that don't bog down the narrative at all. The book left me wanting more information and isn't that a good thing? I think so.

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