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 20th century.
Gripping from the start, 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.
©2006 Erik Larson; (P)2006 Random House, Inc.
"Larson has a knack for creating genuine suspense in his writing, and his latest is thoroughly enthralling." (Booklist)
"Splendid, beautifully written....Thunderstruck triumphantly resurrects the spirit of another age." (Publishers Weekly)
While perhaps not up to the level of Devil in the White City, I found Thunderstruck completely captivating. Just as in his previous book, both plots are very engaging. As the author admits in the prologue, sometimes the detail is just a bit over the top, but the vast majority of the time the extra bits of trivia are quite interesting.
While the narrator starts out speaking quickly at the very beginning (and only the beginning), I had no other issues with the narration. It was clear and never detracted from the story.
Eric Larson is amazing. He ability to interweave two seemingly dissimilar stories into a cohesive thread is great fun. What he did for the Chicago Exhbition in the Devil and the White City, he does again for Marconi. I was educated and entertained simultaneously; a rare combination.
This book was a bit of a disappointment to me. I loved "Devil in the White City", and expected Thunderstruck to be its equal. However, the two plots of Thunderstruck just aren't as interesting as the plots in "White City" - Marconi is interesting, but it's a bit of a stretch to keep me invested in his plot. Crippen is also moderately interesting, but I found myself bored by the excessive detail and wishing that something truly captivating would happen.
Here's a good look at Marconi, of interest to science and history readers, but at the same time, a running plot of a mystery. Wonderful character development and research nicely woven together.
Details and descriptions galore!! If you like that sort of thing...then this is the BOT for you. And that awful narration by Bob Balaban!! Who directed him to speak in that sing-song voice??? - It was absolutely the WORST narrative interpretation of a book I have ever experienced. I should have listened to a sample before downloading this one.
One of the worst I have attempted to listen to. In fact, had to give it up after 5 hours of extreme boredom.
Would have been better if the author had written two boring books instead of consolidating them into one.
This would have been better if it had been written as a science history book which is how it read. The murder mystery part of it was lost in the science history of telegraph communications.
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