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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 (700 )
5 star
 (173)
4 star
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4.0 (346 )
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1 star
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4.1 (340 )
5 star
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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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  •  
    Mark Whitby, Ontario, Canada 02-13-07
    Mark Whitby, Ontario, Canada 02-13-07 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    5
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    "Too long, rather pointless"

    This is not a novel so much as it is a history lesson. I got all the way through it and I do not regret the purchase, but be warned, its less story and more fact in chronological order.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darryl Cedar Rapids, IA, United States 01-05-07
    Darryl Cedar Rapids, IA, United States 01-05-07 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "very good"

    very good story, but i think the book is misconstructed in a couple of important ways and might have moved quicker. non-fiction buffs will still enjoy it i should think

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Shelbyville, KY, USA 12-06-06
    Robert Shelbyville, KY, USA 12-06-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    10
    6
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    "hard to listen to"

    I enjoyed the story, but I was having a hard time listening to more than a half hour at a time. It took me half the book to realize the reading was very disjointed. The narrator seemed to add a comma to almost every sentence, breaking them up into short, choppy sections, and this made it very hard to listen to.

    The story by Larsen was what I have come to expect from him after reading one and listening to another of his books.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad 07-28-15
    Brad 07-28-15 Member Since 2015
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    2
    1
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    Story
    "Narration solid but story kinda boring"

    Devil in the white city is an amazing book so tried this one and was pretty let down with lack of interesting story. Not till the final 1/4th of the book did I find much to really keep me interested.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elisabeth 07-02-15
    Elisabeth 07-02-15 Member Since 2015
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    2
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    Story
    "Captivating, Curious and Completely worth the listen"

    The voice is perfectly pitched with a cadence that draws you into the story. One saturated with the fascinating history of the race for wireless communications which is inextricably bound into the underlying mystery of a old man and a woman hardly more than a girl dressed as a boy on a ship in the middle of the ocean.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian 06-28-15
    Brian 06-28-15 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    1
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    Story
    "Excellent"

    Larson never disappoints. A great story. Truth is stranger than fiction. Fast paced with great characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim 04-28-15
    Tim 04-28-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thunderstruck is a winner"

    After listening to and enjoying Dead Wake I decided to try another Erik Larson book. I must admit if my history book would have read like a Larson book I would have done much better in school. I enjoyed the way the story played out and the connections were made. This is an excellent book and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter 04-22-15
    Peter 04-22-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Weakest Erik Larson book"

    Only moderately interesting. Author apologizes for his penchant for detail, but apology not nearly adequate for the amount of irrelevant detail. Ending of the coda leaves the reader/listener hanging.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KismetKat11 Evanston, IL USA 04-10-15
    KismetKat11 Evanston, IL USA 04-10-15 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting but Larson has done better"
    Would you try another book from Erik Larson and/or Bob Balaban?

    Yes, I love the way Erik Larson often contrasts to simultaneous stories showing an intersection one might not have otherwise recognized. However, I found Bob Balaban's narration to be a bit annoying. He sometimes would talk "up", ending a sentence as if it were a question. Also, it's a pet peeve when people mispronounce the names of places. Slough, UK is pronounced like "Plow" (with the 'gh' at the end silent), not like "Fluff".


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I was really more drawn to the Crippen storyline. I was less interested in how many towers Marconi built and where he built them.


    Did Bob Balaban do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    N/A, this was a narration.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    I don't think so. I know the story and don't feel that visuals would add anything.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael D. Johnson 03-30-15 Member Since 2014
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    Performance
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    "Great story."

    Met expectations.
    Good History without boring you with detail Larsen never writes a bad book.
    Well presented to maintain you're interest.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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