Thunderstruck by The #1 New York Times bestselling author Erik Larson

72%

17 Critic Reviews

At times slow-going, but the riveting period detail and dramatic flair eventually render this tale an animated history lesson.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil in the White City, 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 murder.

With his unparalleled narrative skills, Erik Larson guides us through a relentlessly suspenseful chase over 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.

 

About The #1 New York Times bestselling author Erik Larson

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Erik Larson is the bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist and Edgar Award-winning The Devil in the White City. He lives in Seattle with his wife, three daughters, and a dog named Molly.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published October 24, 2006 by Broadway Books. 480 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Computers & Technology, Travel, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment, Education & Reference, Crafts, Hobbies & Home. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Mar 08 2015
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Thunderstruck
All: 17 | Positive: 13 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Above average
on May 20 2010

At times slow-going, but the riveting period detail and dramatic flair eventually render this tale an animated history lesson.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Nov 13 2006

“Thunderstruck” would be a far better book if it conveyed a clearer sense of how the Crippen marriage reached this unfortunate state of affairs. But Mr. Larson renders both Crippens only sketchily.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Kevin Baker on Nov 05 2006

Erik Larson has done it again. In “Thunderstruck,” just as in his last book, “The Devil in the White City,” he has taken an unlikely historical subject and spun it into gold.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Oct 21 2006

"Thunderstruck" would be a far better book if it conveyed a clearer sense of how the Crippen marriage reached this unfortunate state of affairs. But Larson renders both Crippens only sketchily.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Kathryn Hughes on Mar 03 2007

Both the Marconi and the Crippen stories have been told several times before and, taken singly, could not perhaps bear another outing. However, wrapped around each other like a kind of double helix, they give us a richer picture of Edwardian London than could ever be managed if each stood alone.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Gaby Wood on Feb 10 2007

More significantly, the Marconi story feels far less engaging than that of Crippen. There is plenty to be enthralled by in the Marconi tale - Larson touches on the late 19th-century overlapping of magic and science and belief, yet renders it less magical than it might be...

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Examiner

Above average
Reviewed by Marc Stern on Feb 01 2012

...a fascinating, well-researched and well-written, thought-provoking look...Much of “Thunderstruck” deals with the running corporate battle between Marconi and his competitors...

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on Jan 23 2011

Erik Larson has a winning combination here --- pairing a celebrated segment of history with a heinous crime --- making what, in the wrong hands, could turn out as a dull account into a fast-paced drama.

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Noel Murray on Nov 24 2006

Thunderstruck lacks the urgency and blood-chilling revelation that made The Devil In The White City such a page-turner, though Larson does fill the book with cliffhangers, teases, and mini-mysteries.

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Entertainment Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Jennifer Reese on Oct 25 2006

The development of the wireless has its fascinations, but against a gory sexual psychodrama it doesn’t stand a chance.

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The Seattle Times

Good
Reviewed by Charles R. Cross on Oct 27 2006

I began “Thunderstruck” wondering how Larson would ever manage to connect an inventor and a madman. Yet I came away pondering why no other writer had already written what seemed like an obvious story.

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Austin Chronicle

Good
Reviewed by Rick Klaw on Dec 01 2006

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.

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The Agony Column

Good
Reviewed by Rick Kleffel on Dec 11 2006

But there's more than just page turning, though that in itself is enough. It's impossible to read about Marconi without thinking of his equivalents in the dot-com days. Larson's vision of the past informs not just his readers' vision of the past, but also our vision of the present and future.

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ReviewingtheEvidence.com

Good
Reviewed by Barbara Franchi on Oct 01 2006

Larson has a knack for making history seem immediate. Even though the two stories in THUNDERSTRUCK are a bit of a stretch when it comes to matching timelines, they are both fascinating.

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What Would the Founders Think?

Good
Reviewed by Martin on Sep 27 2014

It’s a fascinating book that has it all: romance, mystery, paranoia, politics, magicians, psychics, seances, industrial espionage, murder, and some history thrown in to boot.

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Word Up Nerd Up

Good
Reviewed by Word Nerd on May 12 2012

Read it! If you can get through the technical information, you will be rewarded by an exciting story that leaves you wondering if someone got away with murder.

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Mystery File

Excellent
Reviewed by DAVID L. VINEYARD on Jul 19 2010

Thunderstruck reads like the best of novels, but has the weight of truth behind it. Carefully crafted and brilliantly written, it is a true crime story that compares with the best fiction for twists, turns, and moments of crime-solving worthy of Dr. Thorndyke or Sherlock Holmes.

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Reader Rating for Thunderstruck
75%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1074 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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