Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (2006)
Yes, this book is by the same author as the “Big Read” book, The Devil In the White City – the story of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893, chief architect Robert Burnham, and infamous murderer H.H. Holmes.
In Thunderstruck, Larson takes us to Edwardian England and intertwines the stories of William Marconi and his invention and development of the radio, and Hawley Crippen, an accused notorious murderer. For most of us, Marconi was merely the answer to a question in history class. Yet this was a real man and his story is an exciting as he must struggle with his invention, competitors, family and himself. Larson shows us what a dramatic change the radio made to peoples’ lives.
And what of the connection between Marconi and Crippen? Hawley Crippen was no H.H. Holmes in that he was only accused of a single murder, but his story was sensationalized by the press of the 1900s. The story of the murder, the policeman who “solved it,” Crippen’s flight on the high seas, how the radio was used in his subsequent capture and arrest, his trial and the aftermath make this a great read.