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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Richard
  • Palo Alto, CA, United States
  • 09-30-10

Wonderful story

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

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Hot Springs, AR, United States
  • 12-10-08

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 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • irvin
  • marietta, GA, United States
  • 10-20-07

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 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Fran
  • Bronte, TX, USA
  • 11-20-06

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.

7 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Janet
  • Creighton, PA
  • 11-30-15

Less would have been more.

Two story lines. One intriguing and one plodding . They finally come together but it felt like a lot of work to get there.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wonderful Story

This is a great book for fans of history and mystery. Mr. Larson does an excellent job weaving two stories together.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Superb

Erik Larson's books never disappoint. This is a wonderful discussion of love, murder, and invention, and the three are woven together spectacularly. Larson moves between the subjects frequently enough to keep the listener's interest, even for those not particularly interested in the development of wireless. The technical specifics were at times dull, but there is enough history and personal intrigue to keep me listening constantly. Bob Balaban does an excellent job narrating.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Same as Devil in the White City

If you enjoyed Devil in the White City you'll love this: same format, same in-depth reporting, same time period, same contrast between industry and crime.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Not His Best

Read "The Devil and The White City" instead. Much better stories and more engaging. "Dead Wake" is also very good.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Lightning strikes about halfway through

You have to hang in there to enjoy the Erik Larson's thunderstruck. It's a complicated story weaving a lot of elements together and it doesn't really get traction till at least halfway through the book. It'san interesting look at the life of one of the now forgotten groundbreaking inventors - Marconi .at the same time Larson spins the tale of one of Britain's most famous murder cases that is little known to most Americans.it all comes together at the end but sometimes it seems like it's taking a long time to get there.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful