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Thunderstruck | [Erik Larson]

Thunderstruck

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. Their lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.
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Publisher's Summary

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. Their 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 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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (687 )
5 star
 (169)
4 star
 (289)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.0 (334 )
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Story
4.1 (328 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Richard Palo Alto, CA, United States 09-30-10
    Richard Palo Alto, CA, United States 09-30-10 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    "Wonderful story"

    Erik Larson tells a great story that makes it hard to stop listening. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    miyaker 09-19-08
    miyaker 09-19-08 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    71
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    350
    9
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    "Excellent Book, Narration is fine"

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Isabel 05-25-07
    Isabel 05-25-07 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    224
    2
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    Overall
    "Boring"

    Quite a disappointment after the incredible ?Devil in the White City?. It was good for listening to on the plane though, it put me right to sleep.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alex 02-27-07
    alex 02-27-07 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    Overall
    "He's a magician"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marty New York, NY, USA 12-18-06
    Marty New York, NY, USA 12-18-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
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    19
    5
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    "Read"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    llr Wimberley, Tx United States 12-09-06
    llr Wimberley, Tx United States 12-09-06 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    132
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    "Two for one"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AW Denver, CO 11-27-06
    AW Denver, CO 11-27-06 Member Since 2014

    Schneetzer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    4
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    "GREAT"

    A fantastic story and a great listen. I can't wait for the next one from Larson!!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Speroni 12-12-06
    N. Speroni 12-12-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    50
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    "the WORST sing song narration"

    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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Hot Springs, AR, United States 12-10-08
    James Hot Springs, AR, United States 12-10-08 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Terrible"

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claire 08-08-07
    Claire 08-08-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "All facts, no story"

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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