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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crackling and cracking
Two very different stories, one a tale of betrayal, intrigue and murder and the other the crackling history of the development of radio transmission, but melted together in this third delicious offering from historian and writer Erik Larson.

Larson's other books have stuck to a winning formula, and he does not deviate from this simple framework for...
Published on 17 Jun. 2007 by I. Curry

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars So disappointed
I was really disappointed with this book. Larson's The Devil in White City was amazing and held my interest from page 1. This book dragged and was dry in its approach.
Published 17 months ago by Yank Abroad


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crackling and cracking, 17 Jun. 2007
By 
I. Curry "IDC" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Thunderstruck (Hardcover)
Two very different stories, one a tale of betrayal, intrigue and murder and the other the crackling history of the development of radio transmission, but melted together in this third delicious offering from historian and writer Erik Larson.

Larson's other books have stuck to a winning formula, and he does not deviate from this simple framework for Thunderstruck. In the Devil and the White City the story of the Chicago World Fair, and the awesome demonstration of science and technology that went with it, was narrated alongside the gruesome story of mass murderer [ ]. In the Drowning of Galveston the nascent science of meteorology was tested and found flawed with devastating consequences, and again Larson wove a story of technological progress around human suffering.

In Thunderstruck the technological progress takes the starring role. The main thrust of this book is the story of radio waves, wireless telegraphy and the intriguing personalities that developed them. This is the story of Marconi, Fleming, Lodge and Tesler in an age where the transmission of messages through the ether to once isolated ships seemed as miraculous as the psychic and metaphysical demonstrations of mediums that fascinated late Victorian England.

But once again Larson ties the story of progress with something darker. In this case it is the case of Dr Crippen, his domineering and eventually dismembered wife Belle and Ethel Le Neve, his mysterious mistress. Most people will be familiar with the story of Crippen, the body in the basement and his eventual capture by use of wireless telegraphy. This is the connections that binds the two stories.

What makes Larson such an enjoyable and consummate writer of historical prose is his gift with the language, his ability to pace the stories to gripping, electric finishes and the diligent research which ensures he is able to inject life and interest into the past.

Anyone who has read any of his previous work and enjoyed them will be well served by this latest offering. Any one unfamiliar with Larson, but who enjoys deliciously well written history, would be advised to give them a go.

Would give 4.5, but obviously the Amazon rating system won't allow this!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thunderstruck, 24 April 2007
By 
Mr. S. Hall (Northumberland UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thunderstruck (Hardcover)
As an ex radio officer I bought this book to read more about Marconi. I found myself becoming equally interested in the story of Dr Crippen. The two stories are woven together excellently. at no point was I bored by excessive detail. An excellent read
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A neat idea for a book and hard to put down once started!, 2 April 2007
By 
V. Mccloy (Singapore) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thunderstruck (Paperback)
I received this as a surprise Christmas present and probably wouldn't have picked it as an obvious book to read. However once I started reading I found the story (or in fact the inter-weaved stories) fascinating, and this turned out to be a book I couldn't put down. The stories of Crippen and Marconi are cleverly alternated which really kept my attention. (I suspect they both had the potential to be a bit dry on their own). The book is very readable and really keeps your attention to the end. A few more photographs would have enhanced it further perhaps.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different from "The Devil in the White City", 26 April 2011
By 
G. Palmer "gorpalm" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thunderstruck (Kindle Edition)
A fascinating piece of social and technical history, well written and with occasional moments of levity. Erik Larson's repeated the device of interleaving two stories together like his previous book, but it doesn't quite work as cleanly this time round.

There, the 'White City' as a human construct, built to highlight the brightest of men's achievements, serves as an unknowing and unwilling lure to the deadly and dark ensnarement of 'The Devil' - Almost a case of "The brighter the light, the darker the shade"; In this book the tales of Marconi and Crippen are also related in parallel, but in a slightly hazy chronological order sometimes, and the two stories really only touch, make contact, at the end.

It doesn't make it any less satisfying which is why I've given it a 5*, and it's fascinating to read about people's incredulous amazement that any kind of messages could be sent through the ether (given how wireless technology in all its forms is absolutely embedded in our civilisation, just a hundred or so years later).

On a total side-note, years ago I'd read a book about the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, captained by Henry Kendall - It was interesting to get a glimpse into his eventful past and the part he played in the capture of Dr Crippen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Radio transmissions and a murder, 19 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Thunderstruck (Paperback)
Wonderful and accurate account of a murder case that caused a sensation at the time, but made even more famous because its resolution was possible thanks to the use of a new technology for the period: radiotelegraphy.
This is a very long book that on the one hand tells us about the figure of Guglielmo Marconi from his boyhood until his death, and on the other hand narrates the story of Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen and his wife. Behind the writing of this book is a huge research work. The author, in fact, always tells the events as they happened, reporting all the sources. Actually the last twenty percent of the book contains numerous explanatory and bibliographical notes, where you can find confirmation of the facts narrated.
I have to admit that up to two thirds of the book I found the story of Marconi far more interesting, which I didn’t know at all, while the life of Crippen and the persons associated with him was pretty boring. In the last part, however, starting from the disappearance of Cora I got caught by the narrative of the events and, although I figured out how it would end (even though I hadn’t read the description of the book), I was a bit sorry for poor Crippen.
But what really makes this book wonderful is the genius of Marconi. Much of the technology that we take for granted exist thanks to his perseverance, the maniacal way with which he carried on his empirical experiments (he wasn’t a “real” scientist) and thanks to the fact that this genius was in the hands (and mind) of a person who had the opportunity to put it into practice.
If you love science and technology, this is a book you must read.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lightning DOESN'T strike twice, 24 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Thunderstruck (Paperback)
In THUNDERSTRUCK, Erik Larson tries to repeat the successful formula that made his previous book THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY so compelling. One again he tries to tell two parallel stories that intersect at one Earth-shattering point in history and this time it is the downfall of the notorious Doctor Hawley Crippen in 1910 by the invention (or at least practical application) of wireless telegraphy by Guglielmo Marconi.

On the whole this is a successful formula as both stories are fairly interesting in themselves, although the life of Marconi doesn't generally come across as being all that compelling, and Crippen is actually a rather less interesting and more pathetic figure than might previously have been thought (given his rather high profile in Madame Tussaud's for example) the alleged murder being possibly the most interesting (and - of course - completely unacceptable) event from an otherwise fairly dull life. In this way the stories just don't take off in the way they did in THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, but that might just be because the stories of Crippen and Marconi are less surprising and more widely known, or maybe just less totally horrifying (although we should still be horrified) than in the previous work.

Another problem is that the timelines are not as concurrent as they were in the previous book, but the book still persists for the most part in alternating chapters between the two stories, so that events in 1910 are followed by events in 1902, so the book seems less seamless than its predessessor. Structurally, however, I can see this is all very well - that Crippen's fate is sealed before he lifts a finger by events happening 8 years earlier is very ironic - but it does tend to upset the flow, and just when you are getting involved in one storyline you then hit a full stop and have to leap into the other for a while. THUNDERSTRUCK really doesn't get into its stride until it concentrates solely on the story of the pursuit of Doctor Crippen and his companion Ethel Le Neve across the high seas in the latter stages of the narrative, and in many ways the alternating story of events on the two ships involved is the more successful one.

Other slight disappointments are that Marconi's problems with the mysterious physics of his system are built up throughout the text but never really get a satisfactory conclusion within the book itself. I'm sure you can go off and find out more about the workings of Wireless if you want to, but the payoff within the book itself is slightly unsatisfying. Equally, Miss Le Neve's long life after her acquittal gets a scant couple of pages, and whilst it is probably not hugely relevant to the stories being told here - and again you can go off and find out more if you so wish - with the amount of detail the rest of the book has, just a little more would have seemed richer.

On the whole, though, this is an extremely good and well written, well researched and compelling book. The tragedy that is the life of Crippen is evoked extremely well, and his fate - and whether there really was enough evidence to support it - tells us more about the times he lived in than much else written about that era. Marconi however, comes across less sympathetically on the page, but then again, so do many of his colleagues and rivals, and with the level of pre-war hostility towards all things "foreign", perhaps the flaws in his character are more understandable.

The level of research required to produce a work such as this is incredible and gives it an overall richness that makes it very difficult to put down when you get involved with it. Sadly, it just falls short of being truly great, but it was always going to have a lot to live up to as a follow up to the previous book. Lightning still - alas - doesn't strike twice in the same place after all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Book ! A Great Blending of Two Stories, 19 Aug. 2014
By 
Bruce Miller "hyper2u" (Louisville, Kentucky and San Diego, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thunderstruck (Paperback)
Wow ! I can't say enough great things about this book. Cover to cover it was pure entertainment with all of the great features of suspense, historical facts, and social history with little known antecedotes, romance, and wonderful character development. I learned a great deal about Marconi and was entertained by Dr. Crippen, Ethel, and Belle and the cast of characters that all came together so nicely. Of course, Bruce Miller's role in the story immediately got my undivided attention. The book was well researched and I thought the comments and summaries of the interviews conducted by the descendants of the luminaries were very interesting. I can't say enough good things about this story ! Everything that Erik Larson writes is exceptionally well done. I am now going to start Devil in the White City and looking forward to another fabulous story ! This book gets my highest recommendations and I have already shared it with several of my contemporaries in the Communications Department.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great read., 24 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Thunderstruck (Paperback)
The author presents an impeccably researched book that intertwines seamlessly the three main characters of
Dr Crippen, Marconi and Dew.
Crippen the mild mannered murderer, Marconi the obsessed inventor and Dew the Scotland Yard detective leading the manhunt for Crippen..

The tale unfolds in an interesting and well paced way, and is incredibly detailed without being boring.
I would recommend this book and shall certainly be looking for more books by this author.
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2.0 out of 5 stars So disappointed, 22 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Thunderstruck (Hardcover)
I was really disappointed with this book. Larson's The Devil in White City was amazing and held my interest from page 1. This book dragged and was dry in its approach.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not a patch on Devil in The City, 11 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Thunderstruck (Kindle Edition)
The Marconi sections are more interesting than the Crippen ones until the chase is on. Worth a read but not a real page turner.
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Thunderstruck
Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (Hardcover - 1 Feb. 2007)
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