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The Great Train Robbery
 
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Michael Crichton
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The Great Train Robbery

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  14,408 ratings  ·  623 reviews
"A nineteenth-century version of THE STING...Crichton fascinates us."
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
In teeming Victorian London, where lavish wealth and appalling poverty live side by side, Edward Pierce charms the most prominent of the well-to-do as he cunningly orchestrates the crime of the century. Who would suspect that a gentleman of breeding could mastermind the darin...more
Audio Cassette, Unabridged; 6 sound cassettes (8.75 hr.)
Published 2000 by Recorded Books (first published May 1975)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brad
Aug 21, 2009 Brad rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Crichton
If I am capable of guilt when it comes to my literary tastes The Great Train Robbery could be a "guilty pleasure," but how can a man who did his honours thesis on Michael Crichton's The Great Train Robbery feel any guilt over loving The Great Train Robbery?

He can't. And I don't.

It is an exemplar of what I call cinematic writing: novel length prose that the author ultimately intends for the screen.

The characters are skill-based and maleable (sometimes even interchangeable), the chase -- either...more
Veeral
Although "The Great Train Robbery" was a real event, I had no idea what it was all about. Sure, I had heard about it (i.e., I knew its name) and was aware that Crichton had written a book (still quite popular) about the theft and that it even inspired a movie of the same name starring Sean Connery.

And after reading this book, I think that being totally ignorant about the event highly paid-off as I enjoyed the book way much more than I had anticipated. It really felt as if the movie "Ocean's Elev...more
Dyuti
Jun 10, 2012 Dyuti rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dyuti by: Adhip
Reasons why I implore you to check out this book



The Setting: The 1850's, Victorian England. Rich, colourful and detailed, this is one of the most dynamic periods of English history, forever loved by readers both young and old. It was a world of contradictions: beneath the aforementioned richness, lay the pall of poverty, sickness, prostitution and death, harboured by the ongoing Industrial Revolution. The author, Michael Chrichton flits so seamlessly between the two, that it creates a wonderfu...more
Mith
For some reason, whenever someone had mentioned this book to me earlier, I had always pictured a cowboy on horseback chasing down a train in the wild, wild west, complete with a lasso in his hand. I have no idea how I made that relation but the image stuck. And since cowboys and westerns were not really my thing, I had never felt the urge to pick this book up, until now.

Oh, how so very wrong I had been!

You can safely assume I kicked myself a fair number of times after I was about a quarter-way t...more
Arun Divakar
The images conjured up by Victorian London have always been the ones I as a reader love reveling in. Horse drawn carriages, gas light lit streets, the upright manners and social norms that put a set of most beastly human urges on a leash, heights of monetary decadence and abject pits of poverty abound in these images that I make up in my mind. One part of why I adore Mr.Holmes, like many others is undoubtedly such an image of London and thereabouts. I wouldn't have been this taken by the detecti...more
Agatha Diaz
Based on factual accounts through excerpts of the trial, Crichton delivers a fast-paced Victorian crime story. I liked how Crichton set up the story from the inception, to the planning, to the mishaps, and eventually to the execution of The Great Train Robbery. Edward Pierce, the mastermind behind The Great Train Robbery of 1855, is a smart and calculating character. As a reader, I found myself rooting for the bad guy, so to say, as Crichton did a fantastic job telling the story through the eyes...more
Eric
Aug 08, 2013 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Michael Crichton, heists and/or Victorian London
This book had all the ingredients for a great adventure -- a charming rogue for a lead character, an intricate Ocean's Eleven-style heist, a well-drawn Victorian London setting (you could almost feel Sherlock Holmes in the background investigating), and top-notch writing.

However, since it is made clear in the beginning of the novel that the heist was pulled off successfully, the story is lacking any "will they or won't they pull it off" suspense. The fact that the novel is still so gripping and...more
David
Crime novel on a grand scale, I love how this book covers the plotting and scheming of the robbery. The best comparison I can think of is the ocean eleven, particularly with details like the slang for the jobs typical to this "profession" and the underground roles of people who set these attempts in motion. Its a different spin on the crime with the focus on the criminals and not on those solving the crime. A well written and intriguing suspense novel by a quality author, although this is probab...more
Kathryn
Ultimately, I felt the dark, underside of London was the main character in this book. And not sure I liked that. On one hand, I learned a great deal about London criminals and the like (some of which I wish I hadn't learned; the dog fights especially, agh!) but I don't feel like I ever really got to know each of the players in the robbery as individual characters, I didn't really care about any of them. And not because they were criminals--just leave it to movies like "Oceans 11" to make crimina...more
Scott
"True crime" account of the Great Train Robbery in England in 1855. I really liked the book, more so than the other books by Michael Crichton that I've read in the past.

The book is fairly short, and reads even shorter, as the book maintains a quick pace from start to finish. One aspect of the book that I found particularly enjoyable was the way Crichton wove bits and pieces of information about the subsequent trial of the perpetrators throughout the main plot line to illustrate many of the clev...more
Ed G
Jul 11, 2007 Ed G rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Crichton fans, adventure fans, mystery fans
All I'm going to say about Crichton is that he has a knack for what I call the "miracle ending". In one summer I read Congo, Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Terminal Man, The Great Train Robbery and Sphere. I felt the same about each of them when I finished each.

He's a very good writer with captivating storylines, dead on science, compelling plot and in depth characters, but...I feel like he gets tired of writing the same story or can't properly tie things together at the end so he has som...more
Elise
The beauty of this book is that you're never quite sure how much is historical fiction and how much is nonfiction history, but whatever it is, it's fantastic. The book is fast paced, engaging, stuffed with interesting period vernacular and insights into Victorian life. The writing is witty and engaging, and the characters all wonderfully, deftly developed. The elusive Mr. Pierce remains somewhat of a mystery, which only adds to his intrigue, and emulates his legacy of a mysterious figure in hist...more
Alexander Arsov
Michael Crichton

The Great Train Robbery

Avon, Paperback, 2002.

12mo. xx+329 pp. Introduction by Michael Crichton, November 1974 [xiii-xx].

First published, 1975.

Contents

Introduction

Part I
Preparations

Part II
The Keys

Part III
Delays and Difficulties

Part IV
The Great Train Robbery

Part V
Arrest and Trial

=======================================

I have read this book by sheer accident. I received it as a gift and, since I had seen and enjoyed the movie, I thought I might out of pure curiosity have a look at t...more
John
Great historical "info-tainment" that reads like the first OCEAN'S 11 movie, only grittier. Crichton really knows how to write a caper: he starts with a "mission impossible" scenario and then makes sure to pepper in as many unforeseen complications as possible. The story seems so tailor-made for the big screen that it's hard to believe the majority of it is supposedly based on fact. And a movie did eventually get made out of this, with Crichton himself directing. But what makes this book so supe...more
Elisa
I had no idea Crichton had ever published a piece of historical fiction, but he pulled this one off so well that I might have to check to see if he has any more. This book brilliantly presents all of the most fascinating aspects of Victorian England's culture while unfolding the brilliant but reckless scheme behind a remarkable train burglary. Crichton packaged history into a suspenseful storyline, judiciously choosing historical details that would be tantalizing both to a history major and some...more
Alden
The Great Train Robbery is set in Victorian London with the main characters Edward Pierce, a former ticket taker on the railway line, and Robert Agar, a screwsman who is skilled with copying keys and picking locks, the masterminds behind the robbery. It is actually the true story of a massive gold heist which took place on a train traveling through England in 1855. It is written more as a historical documention of the events rather than a traditional novel and is frequenly interrupted by lengthy...more
Avel
I think this was one of Crichton's finest pieces of his life. Unfortunately, this might be due to the fact that the original story was not his creation. If you look up the train robbery, a few names are switched around, but obviously Crichton does so to avoid some confusion that could arise in the story had he kept the original names. He does put the piece together well, and the story keeps you turning page after page in awe. A lot of blurbs on Victorian history are thrown in between paragraphs...more
Tweedledum
This is my absolute favourite Crichton book, based as it is on an audacious true heist in Victorian England. The detailed research Crichton has carried out in order to write the book is fantastic in itselfrevealng the extra-ordinary lengths that The gang were prepared to go to. Perhaps In discovering the film version after reading the book with Sean Conney as the mastermind Edward Pierce and Donald Sutherland as his unfortunate compatriot in crime who is forced to lie heavily made up in a coffin...more
Christopher Taylor
There have been several "great train robberies" which leads to some confusion when the title is mentioned, but this is the greatest of them in terms of time and wealth. There have been richer robberies, but none executed with such style and difficulty. There have been older train robberies, but not of such wealth.

It was 1855 in England, and a small group of determined thieves managed to break into and rob the government of 200 pounds of solid gold worth £12,000 (over 1.6 million US dollars in mo...more
Melissa Kling
I have read only 3 of Michael's novels, but the three I have read convinced me he was a very talented and intelligent man. He does fantastic research for his novels.
The Great Train Robbery would not have otherwise interested me, but Michael's style (story form) and research (all things Victorian) made it an incredible read. He kept it authentic by the way the characters talked and used their slang of the time, which made it fun.
I've recommended this book to many people and do so now: READ IT!
Christine Blachford
Set in Victorian London, this book tells the eponymous tale of an ambitious plan to rob a gold from a bank safe on a train. The story takes you from the initial planning, through to the problems and delays that occurred, through to the actual mission. There’s also a quick note at the end about bringing the criminals to justice.

Mr Pierce is our main character, I am loathe to call him the hero of the story, given the nature of the crimes. He plans the whole affair, takes part in most of it, and is...more
Steven Kinney
This story could have been a very dry list of names and dates. Or it could easily have been "based on a true story", meaning it was entertaining but had little to do with the actual events. Somehow, however, Crichton managed to get both in.

The POV for this work is a narrator who interacts with you, the reader. Talking you through the historical background, context, and conjecture that makes up our understanding of the story. This is blended, fairly well, with the fictional filling in of the char...more
Sheri
I’m not usually one for required reading, but this is definitely worth the reading list honor. Set in 19th century London, this novel tells the tale of a group of criminals, masterminded by the smooth Edward Pierce, and their attempt to pull off the greatest crime of all time. Definitely intriguing and exciting, I found myself becoming a fan of the villains and wanting to hear more about how their ultimate crime was planned and performed.
S.L. Pierce
I'm reading this again. It's been years. I love to go back and look at great authors early work!
Finished and I'm pleased to say it was very good. A little bit too much outside the story detail but only slightly - so much of the detail is interesting because it gives details of the time (1850-ish). Michael Crichton is a master of wrapping his research around an excellent story. I recommend.
Adam Donald
This is a story based on a train robbery that happened just outside of London in the 19th century. A team of highly intelligent thieves plans to rob a shipment of gold that is being sent to fund the Crimean War. The story is told in the form of testimony at a trial. The witnesses recount their experiences working with a man with a red beard. This man is the mastermind behind the whole plot but no one seems to know what his real name is as he has so many aliases. The story goes into great detail...more
Kim
This story is about the Great Train Robbery that happened in England in 1855. It goes into detail about how the robbery was planned and followed through. Edward Pierce was the mastermind behind the great robbery, nothing is much known about him. I would really like to see the movie. Well written and grabbing, couldn't put it down.
Tom Bisch
You follow a man named Pierce, an audacious mastermind criminal backed up by his accomplices Agar(screwsman-picklocker), Clean Willy(snakesman-sneaker), Barlow(get away driver) and Miriam(beautiful distraction). Together they do the unthinkable: steal 12 thousand pounds worth of gold, locked and guarded on a train, heading to the Crimea. Afterward, all of England is in confusion because nobody has the slightest idea how it was done.
I knew I would enjoy this book but I didn't know it was going t...more
Aubrey
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. This is not the Michael Crichton I know! This Michael Crichton is much better, I think. I love the way you have to sift through the slang talk of the old-time thieves in this book. It's just a really really good book. I think this is based on a true story?
Mark Goodwin
A real page-turner and attention getting book. Based on the true story of one of the greatest train robbery which ever took place. Quite different from most of Crichton's book but one of his best nevertheless.
Cheryl in CC NV
I actually read this several times as a teen, and then when independent was thrilled by each new book by Crichton - until Rising Sun. I don't like thrillers, but I do like learning things.
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Michael Crichton (1942–2008) was one of the most successful novelists of his generation, admired for his meticulous scientific research and fast-paced narrative. He graduated summa cum laude and earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. His first novel, Odds On (1966), was written under the pseudonym John Lange and was followed by seven more Lange novels. He also wrote as Michael Douglas...more
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“Having wallowed in a delightful orgy of anti-French sentiment, having deplored and applauded the villains themselves, having relished the foibles of bankers, railwaymen, diplomats, and police, the public was now ready to see its faith restored in the basic soundness of banks, railroads, government, and police.” 5 likes
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