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Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
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Thunderstruck

by Erik Larson

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Intricate and interesting history of Marconi’s wireless technology. Very captivating mix once the gruesome murder is brought into thestory. Thoroughly enjoyable. ( )
  JosephKing6602 | Jul 21, 2018 |
I always enjoy Erik Larson's books (his ISAAC'S STORM remains one of my top ten favorite reads). They're always well-researched and dynamically written, and THUNDERSTRUCK is no exception. Juxtaposing an important historic event against the development of a major scientific advance is Larson's specialty, and in THUNDERSTRUCK it's Marconi's work in wireless telegraphy against the infamous Crippen murder.

If I have one gripe with this book, it's that I wanted a bit less Marconi and a little more Crippen - but that may be intrinsic to the personalities of the two main players. Marconi was bigger than life: extravagant, driven and passionate, whereas Crippen was so vague a figure as to be nearly transparent. I found myself wanting a bit more information about Crippen's trial, but I should probably read a book dedicated to the case to get that. ( )
  mrsmig | Jan 19, 2018 |
Story of Marconi wireless and how it finally gained acceptance by calling the world's attention to a chase by Scotland Yard of a fugitive on a ship. Includes bit players of scientists and inventors of the day and uncovers their rivalries.
  Bakhtin | Oct 24, 2017 |
Review: Thunderstruck by Erik Larson. 10/10/2017

A really amazing non-fiction book that was intriguing. It’s well written and the characters were fantastic. At first I wasn’t sure if it was fiction or non-fiction because of all the known persons mentioned on the back of the cover and in some of the reviews. I’m glad I read it because there were two stories interwoven and came together at the end. There would be one chapter on the inventor than the next chapter would be about the criminal. Many of the famous names were just an indication or statement about who they were or a comment about what they did to become known. The last hundred pages is where some contact from a known person in history was in a scene with the inventor or the criminal.

Guglielmo Marconi the inventor of the wireless telegraphy had his struggles over ten or more years mastering a long range signal across the Atlantic. His invention at first helped the ship to shore contacts for Military boats. Than the commercial ship to ship on water were able to provide assistance concerning a disaster, a shipwreck or ship maintenance problems was tremendously lowered from previous years. Marconi had to race against time and perfection because others and especially the Eastern Telegraph Company who used contact by cables were trying to figure out how to make their company wireless. September 1895 Marconi had his patent authorized as soon as he made a wireless contact, which I believe was less than a hundred feet.

The other part of the novel that was intertwined among the story of Guglielmo Marconi was the chase of a notorious criminal Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen. He was an alchemist who paddled preposterous patent medicines and was married to an abusive gold-digging, egotistical, flirtatious, unfaithful woman. Crippen endured it as long as he could until the day he really fell in love and became a murderer. His true love never knew about his crime and he convinced her to travel place to place, (he was really being hunted), and their final destination would be Quebec, Canada.

Both stories were entertaining and fascinating. Erik Larson fills the book with plenty of true capers, happenings, events and right down to detailed scene of how Mr. Crippen
murdered his wife, than skinned her and disposed of her bones in a neatly organized fashion…. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Oct 14, 2017 |
Erik Larson's previous novel, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, established him as the premier contemporary author of literary true crime. The publication of Thunderstruck maintains his status.

Larson retells the infamous and oft-told tale of the American Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, who, while living in Edwardian London, murdered his aspiring actress wife and attempted to escape on an ocean liner only to be captured, thanks to a new invention: the wireless radio. Plotted and paced like a thriller, Thunderstruck successfully weaves the concurrent stories of Crippen, his wife Belle Elmore, and Guglielmo Marconi into a fascinating view of early 20th-century life. While the other threads are intriguing, it is the chronicling of Marconi, his radio, and the ensuing marketing of the invention that truly fascinates. Historians often paint a less-than-flattering image of Marconi, claiming he did not invent the radio; rather, that he stole the idea. In Thunderstruck, Larson debunks that idea and envisions the young Marconi as akin to the young entrepreneurs who powered Silicon Valley in the 1990s. Compared to the Marconi segments, the rest of the characters' stories lack the same charm. I longed for more of Marconi and his invention.

Thanks in a large part to his realistic portrayal of England and his work's tense pacing, Larson approaches this well-trodden turf – the second-most famous murder in England, according to the preface – from a unique and fresh perspective. Meticulously researched and well-written, Thunderstruck offers entertainment at its finest, sure to enthrall fans of crime and history alike.

(This review originally appeared in The Austin Chronicle, December 1, 2006.)
Link: [http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/review?oid=oid:424255] ( )
  rickklaw | Oct 13, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erik Larsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Amfreville, MarcTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Babalan, BobNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cookman, WhitneyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldwyn, TonyReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henderson, LeonardDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herbst, GabrieleÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A safe but sometimes chilly way of recalling the past is to force open a crammed drawer. If you are searching for anything in particular you don't find it, but something falls out at the back that is often more interesting.

J.M. Barrie "Dedication" Peter Pan 1904
A safe but sometimes chilly way of recalling the past is to force open a crammed drawer. If you are searching for anything in particular you don't find it, but something falls out at the back that is often more interesting.  J. M. Barrie "Dedication" Peter Pan 1904
Dedication
For my wife and daughters, and in memory of my mother, who first told me about Crippen.
For my wife and daughters, and in memory of my mother, who first told me about Crippen
First words
On Wednesday, July 20, 1910, as a light fog drifted along the River Scheldt, Capt. Henry George Kendall prepares his ship, the SS Montrose, for what should have been the most routine of voyages, from Antwerp direct to Quebec City, Canada.
On Wednesday, July 20, 1910, as a light fog drifted along the River Scheldt, Capt. Henry George Kendall prepared his ship, the SS Montrose, for what should have been the most routine of voyages, from Antwerp direct to Quebec City, Canada.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0739339656, Audio CD)

A true story of love, murder, and the end of the world’s “great hush”

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—whose 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 twentieth century. Gripping from the first page, 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:05 -0400)

A portrait of the Edwardian era recounts two parallel stories--the case of Dr. Hawley Crippen, who murdered his wife and fled to America, and Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of wireless communication--as the new technology is used to capture a killer.… (more)

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