Thunderstruck (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson returns to a technique that he used successfully in his best seller The Devil in the White City (2003). He intertwines the history of one example of enormous human creativity with another of human depravity. In the case of Thunderstruck, he weaves together the story of Guglielmo Marconiwho transformed wireless telegraphy (radio) from a scientific curiosity to a commercially successful technology, radically changing the worldwith that of Hawley Harvey Crippenan American-born doctor who became one of England’s most infamous wife killers.
Born in Italy of an Irish mother and Italian father, Marconi was educated primarily by private tutors. As a youth he loved to experiment with electricity, but he had almost no formal training in science or technology. Inspired in 1894 by reading an obituary of Heinrich Hertz, who had discovered radio waves, the twenty-year-old Marconi began research on the transmission of wireless telegraphic messages. Fluent in English because of his mother, he moved to London in 1896. Not only was London a great international center for science and technology, but England had a patent system that he felt would reward his efforts.
In England he clashed with the established scientific community, especially Oliver Lodge, professor of physics at University College, Liverpool, who was a pioneer in the transmission and reception of radio waves and who had developed an early...
(The entire section is 1867 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Booklist 102, no. 21 (July 1, 2006): 5.
Kirkus Reviews 74, no. 13 (July 1, 2006): 666.
Library Journal 131, no. 13 (August 1, 2006): 102.
The New York Times 156 (November 13, 2006): E1-E6.
The New York Times Book Review 156 (November 5, 2006): 60.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 32 (August 14, 2006): 191.
School Library Journal 52, no. 10 (October, 2006): 191.
The Washington Post Book World 36 (October 22, 2006): 3.
(The entire section is 40 words.)