Zahir's Reviews > Thunderstruck

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
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M 50x66
's review
Aug 20, 2012

it was ok
Read in August, 2012

An ok read by Erik Larsen, told in a style similar to his other hit, Devil in the White City. While both accounts read more like novels rather than historical accounts, Thunderstruck suffers from the same flaw as White City - namely he takes two stories (one generally fascinating, the other pretty boring), which pretty much have absolutly nothing to do with one another, and tries to intertwine them with one another.

Here, Larsen superimposes the story of Marconi and his (supposed) invention of wireless telegraphy. He goes into significant detail of the disputes Marconi had with his rivals, namely Oliver Lodge, and the fierce competition that he faced in building his technology and his company. He goes into quite a lot of detail involving Marconi's personal life, but quickly begins to bore the reader. At times, it felt like Larsen was trying to show off what a great researcher he is rather than engaging the reader.

What I found particularly annoying is that at more than one point, when Larsen describes a particular person in detail, he will go to great lengths to describe their appearance and persona. He often says his description is based on photos, even going so far as to say, "surviving photos show...." A word of advice to Larsen - PUBLISH THE DAMN PHOTO! I don't care to read your 1000 words you use to describe the photo. It's annoying to taunt the reader that way.

The second story is that of Dr. Crippen, his first wife Cora (ake Belle), and his true love, Ethel. This was a far more interesting story and account involving the mild mannered Dr. Crippen, his wife Cora (who he describes an an incredible pain in the ass, who you honestly don't feel much sympathy for as a victim), and his real love, Ethel. The story involves the love triangle, the likely murder, and the chase to capture the culprits. Overall a very well told story, which would have been better if it wasn't interrupted by all that boring stuff about Marconi.

Overall, an ok read. Many similarities to Devil in the White City, but not quite as entertaining.

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Jennifer Aww, I really enjoyed the Marconi stuff (possibly even more than 'Devil'), especially his in the dark trial-and-error approach to science

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