Erik Larson Thunderstruck Book Discussion

As mentioned in our book discussion last night, here is a book discussion Erik Larson held after publishing Thunderstruck at the Printer’s Row Book Fair in Chicago in 2007. Enjoy!


The Murder of Cora

For those who want a deeper look into the Crippen case (if that’s even necessary!) check this out:

The original transcript of the court proceedings from The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.

Some excellent photographs of Hilldrop Crescent, Cora, Hawley, Ethel, and the crime scene.


The Marconi Machine

Erik Larson describes the Marconi Machine pretty well but I think it would help if we saw some images from the time to understand what Marconi’s Machine looked like as well as what some of his experiments looked like as well.

These images are from the Library of Congress.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Edwardian Spiritualism


It’s mentioned early in Thunderstruck about the Edwardian Age’s fascination with the paranormal. Spiritualism, a holdover from the Victorian period, fascinated the minds of many in European and American society. I decided to look a little closer into this phenomenon and brought out a few great articles!

First is this thoroughly researched article from Collector’s Weekly which not only goes into the history of planchettes – one of the many devices employed by mediums – but also a detailed look into Spiritualism itself.

Second I decided to pull up some newspaper articles of the time to get a feel for how people wrote about the seances; believers and skeptics.

The Evening News – 4/5/1904 – Look for the “Gossip of the Day” on Mr. William Frith, R.A.

The Monitor and New Era – 11/14/1908 – Read a “Seance Story”

St. James Gazette – 8/28/1903 – Some con artists and what the St. James Gazette sees as the root of Spiritualism

The Evening News – 3/9/1906 – A fraud is exposed

The Evening News – 6/20/1903 – Colonel Mayhew catches a con artist

If you want to read more articles from London newspapers from this time, or even American newspapers, you can use the database I used Access Newspaper Archives. It’s a great tool!


Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window and Harvey Crippen


Erik Larson is not the only person who has been interested in Harvey Crippen. Alfred Hitchcock was fascinated in England’s second-most-famous murderer and featured a re-creation of his crime in his masterpiece Rear Window and referenced the crime many of his other works.

In his fascinating research Steven DeRosa links several themes in Hitchcock’s films and his television series to the Crippen case. Some of which you may know, some you may not have realized.

Erik Larson On Ideas

This is a great Wall Street Journal interview Erik Larson gave back in March of this year where they ask how he gets his inspiration. He also gives a little inside baseball on the publishing industry and what he his process is when forming his projects. It’s a lot of information in two questions!

Follow this link to walk the video. I couldn’t just put the video here due to the WSJ’s website code. There is an ad, wait for it to pass and you’ll get to the interview. It is 5 minutes long.

Blog at