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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 (590 )
5 star
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3.9 (246 )
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4.0 (240 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Steve Ventura, CA, United States 08-13-12
    Steve Ventura, CA, United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
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    32
    32
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    Performance
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    "Enjoyable"
    What did you love best about Thunderstruck?

    Learning about Marconni and the intrigue of the murder mystery.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The doctor.


    Have you listened to any of Bob Balaban’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not listened to Balaban's other performances, but he did a great job.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    Only criticisms were that author could have been clearer about finanical picture of Marconi's company and could have given a better explanation as to how mistriss was so deceived by the doctor. I can't go into detail on the later point without giving away the plot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. L. Collins Hudson, Ohioi 08-07-12
    C. L. Collins Hudson, Ohioi 08-07-12

    Radio Murders

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "History Has Its Secrets"

    Most of us know of the inventor of "wireless," later known as radio, but like all great creations there was one event that launched this clumsy technology permanently onto the world stage. And as Mr. Larson likes to remind us, the attention grabber is a gruesome murder.

    If you enjoyed Erik Larson's master piece The Devil in the White City, this story will equally satisfy. I highly recommend it. Mr. Balaban has good pace and a voice that complements this riveting story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura The Woodlands, TX, United States 04-23-12
    Laura The Woodlands, TX, United States 04-23-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    48
    5
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    "Horrible Narrator"
    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Bob Balaban, the narrator, detracted from the book by putting commas where they weren't and changing the speed of his read from mach 1 to molasses at the oddest times. The fastest was at the beginning of the book and he'd slow to describe the dessert at the electrical engineering dinner in Canada - really, who cares?
    I looked up Bob Balaban to make sure I'd never listen to one of his books again - this is his only one, I guess narrating was a bad and short career move; wish I had gotten the abridged version, I see it has a different narrator. Anyone would have been better. If this had been my first audible book I'd have cancelled my account immediately!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edwin Flagstaff, AZ, USA 06-12-10
    Edwin Flagstaff, AZ, USA 06-12-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Great Story Well Told"

    Erik Larson tells incredibly interesting stories and I found his self-proclaimed ramblings away from the main subject very interesting and engaging. Erik is on my list of buy and read or listen to every new book he produces without question because I know they will be interesting, entertaining and compelling. And Bob Balaban's reading of the book was top notch. True fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    irvin marietta, GA, United States 10-20-07
    irvin marietta, GA, United States 10-20-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Needed more excitement"

    the author spent a lot of unneccesary time talking about the technical struggles of getting wireless telegraphy to work. that, coupled with the monotone of the reader, made this book a real job to read.

    there should have been a lot more focus on the murder and its investigation.

    the reader starts my saying that there will be a lot of detail about the science around the murder but very little is really brought forward.

    this book should have been 2 hours at the most.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thor, goT 03-29-11
    Thor, goT 03-29-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
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    "Was this about a murder?"

    I think this author actually wanted to write a book about the invention of the wireless telegraph, and only used the promise of a murder story as a pretense...since I'm guessing under a thousand people in the entire world would have purchased this if they had known the extent to which the author was going to drone on with every painful detail about the invention and marketing of the wireless radio...with the occasional tidbit about a dysfunctional marriage inserted randomly here or there.

    I wanted to slap this author. There was entirely too much detail about architectural styles and techniques in the prior book, "The Devil in the White City"...but at least the villian in that one was a seriously disturbed, gruesome, off the charts psychopath that more than made up for the engineering lessons. The "villian" in "Thunderstruck" is a dull, henpecked, bore whose actions were fairly predictable and almost sympathetic... If only he had killed the main character and off'd himself too, he could have saved me several hours of this snooze-fest...

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Visalia, CA, United States 12-19-06
    Pamela Visalia, CA, United States 12-19-06 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    "Thunderstruck"

    This book is so interesting and full of history. I highly recommend it, and was one of those books that I had a hard time putting it down.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fran Bronte, TX, USA 11-20-06
    Fran Bronte, TX, USA 11-20-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    2
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    "Tedious"

    This book seems to go on forever and forever. Every tiny detail of Marconi and Crippen and every tiny detail of anyone who ever knew them is in the book.

    6 of 19 people found this review helpful
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