Eric Larson has a fantastic narrative style that teases the story out of history. He writes about events that shaped our world so that in the middle of the story, the reader can forget how it all turns out. Guglielmo Marconi is a giant of Radio. Of course, he’s going to be successful. We all know that. The genius of Larson’s writing is that for a brief period of time, we DON’T.
Larson takes us right to the center of all the doubts that surround any tumultuous period of time. In Devil in the White City, he allows us to forget the Chicago Worlds Fair was a success long enough to feel the presenters’ strain in the chaotic days leading up to the event. In Dead Wake, we have a moment where it does seem possible that the Lusitania would make it. And here, in Thunderstruck, it seems possible that Marconi will fail.
In Thunderstruck, Larson weaves the stories of Marconi’s quest for transAtlantic wireless communication with a sensational contemporary murder case that was vying for public attention. Between the two stories, Larson captures Edwardian England’s feel, of the transatlantic liners that could shrink the Atlantic to 5 days, and a race to shrink the Atlantic further through wireless telegraphy.
I was born into Radio. It is no surprise that I enjoyed this book. The surprise came that Radio was secondary to the settings and people this book introduced me to. This book made nonfiction, admittedly dramatized nonfiction, as gripping as any novel.
If you have not read Eric Larson, start with Devil in the White City, but by all means, get to this book
- Larson, Eric. Thunderstruck. Broadway Books, 2007, https://eriklarsonbooks.com/book/thunderstruck/.