Thunderstruck Weaves A Tale of Intrigue


Fact or fiction?

Hawley Harvey Crippen, a doctor, and his wife (disguised as his son) board a ship bound for America in the early 20th century.

Crippen’s journey would become linked to wireless technology developed by Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi.

One of them had committed one of the most famous murders in English history.

In Thunderstruck, a work of non-fiction, Erik Larson weaves the tale of two men who would never meet, but would be linked in a way neither could have foreseen. Grisly, suspenseful details emerge as the reader is left wondering for most of the book how the stories of doctor and inventor will merge.

Larson has a gift for making fact seem stranger than fiction. This is my third Erik Larson book. In Devil in the White City, he blends a compelling story about the Chicago World’s Fair with a gruesome murder. Dead Wake tells the story of the Lusitania.

Bicycle Odyssey: Feel Adventure Up Close

For me, life without adventure is not life at all.
As I near my 70th year, I seek even more exhilarating experiences, whether backpacking the long-distance trails of Europe or exploring the trails and bikeways of the USA while traveling in a small travel trailer.

When I can’t get out there, I pursue adventure through reading about others’ experiences. Bicycle Odyssey took me on the trip of a lifetime.
Consider what author Carla Fountain and her husband Dermot accomplished in a year. Planes, trains and buses transported them and their bicycles to the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Kenya, Uganda, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Bali, and many more places. They rode in weather and situations that would keep most of us indoors.

The American couple quit their teaching jobs so they could spend the night in a tent while hippos shook the ground around them. They snorkeled off the Kenyan coast. They survived the dangerous roads of India, where truck drivers honked rather than move over. They confronted their fears with courage.

Fountain uses her journal to recreate the 1991 journey and her story comes from her heart. Her account feels fresh, brought to life through recreated conversations and fascinating details about cultural experiences. Her adventure causes Fountain to re-evaluate her life, including her marriage. She is introspective in a relatable way.

As much as I feel compelled to tackle risky experiences, I doubt I will come close to an adventure like Fountain’s. However, her story inspires me to stretch the boundaries of my life.

The Real Madness of Mental Illness

Harvard freshman Stephen Hinshaw was back home in Columbus, Ohio for spring break. His father, prominent Ohio State philosopher Virgil Hinshaw Jr., called him into his study for a talk. Within minutes, the son’s life changed forever.

For Stephen, the ensuing talks with his father answered questions he had kept buried for a lifetime. Why did Dad disappear all those times? Where did he go?

In Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness Stephen Hinshaw brilliantly shares his family’s story.

Now an eminent psychology professor at UC Berkeley, the author relates his father’s story. He tells how his family’s silence left its marks that he sees in himself every day.

Where did his dad go all those times? To various institutions for what was diagnosed at the time as schizophrenia. The treatments were extreme and included electric shock therapy.

Why did his father have to go away? His highs and lows were so extreme that he was unable to function in his job, in his family. Later came the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, or manic depression.

Stephen Hinshaw describes how ending the silence and stigma attached to mental illness can heal and even prevent scars in patients and their families. The book will help some readers recognize scars in themselves.

Another Kind of Madness envisions a world in which stigma is no longer attached to any condition of human life.