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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.
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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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Bob on 12-08-07

Reader cannot read

This book, while not as good as "The devil in the White City", was OK. But the reader, Bob Balaban, Made the book difficult to follow. Mr. Balaban started the book off with a very fast read, finally he settled down to a good pace. But he does not seem to understand what punctuation is. He paused at awkward times, causing me to go back to understand what he was saying. I give the book 3 stars, I give Mr. Balaban 1 star, just for showing up.

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20 of 22 people found this review helpful


By Michael Jones on 11-14-06

Marconi, murder, mix well

I have enjoyed the unabridged audio book version of Thunderstruck read by the actor Bob Balaban, although I couldn't honestly say if it would hold my interest as much in print. Balaban has a pleasant yet oddly flat delivery that does not distract from the narrative. This, the author's second book in which he utilizes the formula of juxtaposition - where two seemingly unrelated bits of history, one sensational, the other pivotal in scientific advancement, find a unifying thread - might just cement Larson into writing solely in this sub-genre of his own device. Since, for me, pure dry facts of history or science tend not to hold my attention for long, I sincerely hope this style blossoms, not only from Larson but from other history scholars hoping to actually make some serious somolians from their long hours of difficult research by squeezing just a tincture of creative pulp into their work. Who says history can't drop a dose of the good stuff and shake its booty once in a while?

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19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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