Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

Erik Larson has moved from the 1890s in The Devil in the White City to the 1900s and 1910s in his new book Thunderstruck, in which he mixes the stories of mild-mannered murder Hawley Harvey Crippen and young inventor Guglielmo Marconi. Both men immigrate to late Victorian/ early Edwardian London, where the newspapers of Fleet Street make them famous for very different reasons. Surprisingly, Crippen may be the man who is more likeable.

Erik Larson fans will not be disappointed by Thunderstruck. Structured much like The Devil in the White City, it moves back and forth in time and includes many historical details and many secondary characters. I particularly liked the descriptions of fantastic scientific demonstrations at the Royal Society and the building of large radio transmitters and receivers on isolated islands and rugged coasts. The story of the inspection of the Crippen house is also very detailed.

I listened to the book read by Bob Balaban, ten discs in four days. I did not want to stop.

Every librarian already knows to buy this book. I recommend reading it.

Larson, Erik. Thunderstruck. New York: Crown Publishers, 2006. ISBN 1400080665

10 compact discs. Westminster, MD: Books on Tape, 2006. ISBN 1415932794

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