Wednesday, October 04, 2006

.- - -.- - - - - - -.. .-...- -..

by Eric Larson
available in HC on 10/24/06

Eric Larson (previously known for Devil in the White City) does this nifty thing where he takes a relatively obscure item in history, link it up to a real life murder mystery, and ends up creating a nifty picture of life in the world during a particular span of time.

Thunderstruck's history moment is is invention of the "wireless telegraph" mostly by Marconi, but kinda also by a few other people who would like to dispute Marconi's claim that he is the inventor. Meanwhile, Larson also follows a 'sensational' murder mystery that rocked London in the early 20th century, but that I'm sure most people haven't actually heard of. Or, at least, I hadn't.

Chapters alternate between the two stories, following Marconi from his first experiments in his teens and the very beginning of Dr. Crippin's relationship with his wife, who he kills off eventually (he was convicted of it, anyway. he did it, but the real question is whether or not he had help).

The fact that he kills his wife is not a spoiler, you can find that out from the book jacket. Larson's delivery is what makes the book. Although he's focusing on these two story lines and how end up intertwining, you end up with a good idea of how the world was working at the time (in this case, about 1890-1910). He also brings in lots of other "hey, I didn't know that" moments in just about every chapter. There are actually even more such moments than the ones I picked up on, but I'm not well-versed enough in trivia to recognize all of the names he mentioned.

I recommend this to any history or mystery fans. I also recommend his previous similar book 'Devil in the White City' which follows the Chicago World fair and a mass murderer. I plan to read that one again, since the first time I read it it was only in little snippets and I don't think I really obsorbed it correctly. The part about the World's Fair especially brings together a ton of different names you've actually heard of. It's interesting to think of these people as actually being contemporaries who probably knew or knew of each other. I always seem to think of historical figures in their own little boxes, like they were the only important people roaming around that year. Tons of people use 'Devil' in book groups and as gifts, I will say, also.

Thunderstruck would be a good Dad gift, 'cause it also involves big boats 'n stuff, like the first stirings of WWI, tangentially.

posted by ~e at 11:52 AM


Blogger reyn said...

It's not that I'm lazy, but I'm having trouble figuring out where one letter starts and the next begins. What does that Morse code say?

10/04/2006 2:17 PM  
Blogger ket said...

Scarily enough, I have a printout of Morse code taped to my wall (in case I want to send "secret" messages to the folks next door...) - not that I've actually done so, of course.

And I'm with Reyn - how about a hint? Like, what's the first letter of each word?

10/04/2006 2:55 PM  
Blogger ~e said...


i wasn't sure how to space it out, becuase if i put two dashes together, they turned into a single

it's three words, starting with A G R (hopefully)

10/04/2006 11:02 PM  
Blogger reyn said...

got it!! yay, me!

10/05/2006 1:46 PM  

Post a Comment