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Thunderstruck

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    Available in PDF Format | Thunderstruck.pdf | English
    Erik Larson(Author) Tony Goldwyn(Narrator)
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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Praise for "The Devil in the White City" "[Larson] relentlessly fuses history and entertainment to give this nonfiction book the dramatic effect of a novel. . . . A dynamic, enveloping book." --Janet Maslin, "New York Times" "Hugely engrossing . . . exceedingly well-documented, exhaustive without being excessive, and utterly fascinating . . . deserves to be popular everywhere." --Rosellen Brown, "Chicago Tribune" "An irresistible page-turner that reads like the most compelling, sleep-defying fiction." --"Time Out New York" "A great story, recounted with authority, entertainment, and insight . . . Larson writes with marvelous confidence, enthusiasm, polish, and scholarship." --"New York Daily News" "Everything popular history should be." --"Publishers Weekly" (starred review) "Gripping drama, captured with a reporter's nose for a good story and a novelist's flair for telling it . . . Superb." --"Kirkus Reviews" (starred review) "So good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already." --"Esquire"

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Review Text

  • By Anakina on 19 June 2015

    Wonderful and accurate account of a murder case that caused a sensation at the time, but made even more famous because its resolution was possible thanks to the use of a new technology for the period: radiotelegraphy.This is a very long book that on the one hand tells us about the figure of Guglielmo Marconi from his boyhood until his death, and on the other hand narrates the story of Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen and his wife. Behind the writing of this book is a huge research work. The author, in fact, always tells the events as they happened, reporting all the sources. Actually the last twenty percent of the book contains numerous explanatory and bibliographical notes, where you can find confirmation of the facts narrated.I have to admit that up to two thirds of the book I found the story of Marconi far more interesting, which I didn’t know at all, while the life of Crippen and the persons associated with him was pretty boring. In the last part, however, starting from the disappearance of Cora I got caught by the narrative of the events and, although I figured out how it would end (even though I hadn’t read the description of the book), I was a bit sorry for poor Crippen.But what really makes this book wonderful is the genius of Marconi. Much of the technology that we take for granted exist thanks to his perseverance, the maniacal way with which he carried on his empirical experiments (he wasn’t a “real” scientist) and thanks to the fact that this genius was in the hands (and mind) of a person who had the opportunity to put it into practice.If you love science and technology, this is a book you must read.Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return

  • By Mr. S. Hall on 24 April 2007

    As an ex radio officer I bought this book to read more about Marconi. I found myself becoming equally interested in the story of Dr Crippen. The two stories are woven together excellently. at no point was I bored by excessive detail. An excellent read

  • By V. Mccloy on 2 April 2007

    I received this as a surprise Christmas present and probably wouldn't have picked it as an obvious book to read. However once I started reading I found the story (or in fact the inter-weaved stories) fascinating, and this turned out to be a book I couldn't put down. The stories of Crippen and Marconi are cleverly alternated which really kept my attention. (I suspect they both had the potential to be a bit dry on their own). The book is very readable and really keeps your attention to the end. A few more photographs would have enhanced it further perhaps.

  • By G. Palmer on 26 April 2011

    A fascinating piece of social and technical history, well written and with occasional moments of levity. Erik Larson's repeated the device of interleaving two stories together like his previous book, but it doesn't quite work as cleanly this time round.There, the 'White City' as a human construct, built to highlight the brightest of men's achievements, serves as an unknowing and unwilling lure to the deadly and dark ensnarement of 'The Devil' - Almost a case of "The brighter the light, the darker the shade"; In this book the tales of Marconi and Crippen are also related in parallel, but in a slightly hazy chronological order sometimes, and the two stories really only touch, make contact, at the end.It doesn't make it any less satisfying which is why I've given it a 5*, and it's fascinating to read about people's incredulous amazement that any kind of messages could be sent through the ether (given how wireless technology in all its forms is absolutely embedded in our civilisation, just a hundred or so years later).On a total side-note, years ago I'd read a book about the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, captained by Henry Kendall - It was interesting to get a glimpse into his eventful past and the part he played in the capture of Dr Crippen.

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