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Showing 1-10 of 75 reviews(5 star). See all 104 reviews
on September 9, 2015
I bought this as a gift for my brother. I read it myself and found it is, in my opinion, the best that chrichton wrote. fascinating glimpse into a period in history that we don't get much detail on in north america because frankly it does't make wasps look good. all the better for that. could not put that book down until I finished it; that rarely happens and i have owned about 7,000 books.
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on May 6, 2014
Micheal Crichton, masterfully gives a wonderful account. He hits the ball out of the park three times. First, by the subject itself; the incredible planning and carrying out of the train robbery. This was not a casual event. The second book in a book is how well he makes the various characters come alive in these pages. The third way this book was hard to put down, was painting a pretty good picture of life in Victorian England, 150 years distant from today's. It's bizarre culture, defined by classes, including how women fit in, and rigid social expectations and behaviors. Book short listed as one of my deserted island picks.
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on November 4, 2015
Excellent historical research went into this fictionalization of an audacious gold heist in the mid-nineteenth century. Fascinating to read, and all the more enjoyable in this well-paced audio recording by Michael Kitchen, the quietly enigmatic and mesmerizing star of ITV's Foyle's War.
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on August 3, 2016
Thank You
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on July 19, 2017
The great robbery on the train in 1855 is one of the true stories in which reality overcomes fantasy. The ingenious way with which the robbery was prepared, its development full of twists and the surprising ending seem to be the result of someone’s imagination, and instead they are history.
Crichton wrote this book halfway between account and novel, mixing facts coming from his research with fiction scenes created by him on the basis of such facts. No wonder it became a film. It seems conceived and written for cinema!
The reader has the opportunity to step down in Victorian London and learn its uses and customs, especially regarding crime, starting with the picturesque jargon. You can’t help laughing at some points of the text and you become a fan of the gentleman thief and his companions. The reading is fascinating for all its length, but the most amazing thing is the ending.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Kindred Intentions
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on December 16, 2013
This review is for the hardcover edition measuring 9 1/2 X 6 1/2 having 352 pages and no photos.
I would have liked to have seen photos of the principals as, in fact they WERE real people and did do these things, albeit perhaps not EXACTLY in the way the author has decided.
Normally I read ONLY nonfiction but accounts of the great train robbery of 1855 are few and far between and I thought that perhaps with his obvious writing skill and sticking as closely as possible to the known facts Mr Crichton might just 'fill out' the story and give it a little life.
I NEED NOT HAVE WORRIED!
This account is absolutely splendid and conflicts in no way with the facts of the case as I know it.
Sure, he has taken the liberty of putting words in their mouths but general knowledge of the principals and the egos involved make these words probably quite appropriate.
Long before their demise as a mode of public transportation in great popularity the railroads were seen as a novelty and somewhat revered for their ability to move people both quickly and cheaply across the country.
This mystery was smashed with the robbery of an astounding 12,000 pounds.....an amount quite large in those days but what piqued the public's interest was not just the amount, but the audacity of thieves to commit such a robbery and successfully evade capture.
Shades of Robin Hood.
For a nearly true true life adventure this book is an excellent read.
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Following Michael Crichton's untimely death, I decided to complete my library with his works. The GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY was the only one missing and, I must say, although not the usual Science-Thriller Crichton had accustomed us to, it had the writer's signature iconoclastic approach to everything he wrote about.

Set in mid-19th century London, this novel is half historic travelogue through all strata of Victorian society and half an interesting roller-coaster ride on setting up and carrying through the infamous heist.

The period dialogue gave me trouble in more than one occasion at first but after a while you get used to it and you barely notice it. This is one of the early works of Crichton and although some of his flaws as a writer are present, so are most of his strengths: the secondary characters are barely fleshed out; on the other hand, his acute perception, solid research and multifocal vision does not pause before shattering long-held misconceptions and prejudices.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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Following Michael Crichton's untimely death, I decided to complete my library with his works. The GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY was the only one missing and, I must say, although not the usual Science-Thriller Crichton had accustomed us to, it had the writer's signature iconoclastic approach to everything he wrote about.

Set in mid-19th century London, this novel is half historic travelogue through all strata of Victorian society and half an interesting roller-coaster ride on setting up and carrying through the infamous heist.

The period dialogue gave me trouble in more than one occasion at first but after a while you get used to it and you barely notice it. This is one of the early works of Crichton and although some of his flaws as a writer are present, so are most of his strengths: the secondary characters are barely fleshed out; on the other hand, his acute perception, solid research and multifocal vision does not pause before shattering long-held misconceptions and prejudices.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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on June 5, 2004
The time is 1855 and the place is London. Edward Pierce, a master con artist, wants to hijack 12,000 pounds sterling that is being sent by rail to fund the Crimean War. It won't be easy. The money is locked in a safe, made triple-strong, with four keys, each key stored in a different location. All four keys must be found and copied without raising any suspicion. It's a task that would daunt all but the most capable. Fortunately, Pierce is more than up to the job. He's got several things going for him: a razor-sharp intelligence, nerves of steel, patience, cunning, and not least of all, his mysterious mistress, Miss Miriam. Pierce and his confederates spend a year working on their plans. But things have a habit of going awry at the damndest times. Can they pull it off? Maybe. Can they get away with it? Hmmm....
Michael Crichton has written a humdinger of a period suspense novel with telling touches that bring us right into the middle of the Victoria era. For instance, just finding a key in a Victorian living room could be a week-long search, given how cluttered the average living room was at that time. And train travel, still fairly new, was the object almost of worship. A train robbery was infinitely worse than, say, robbing a bank. Who would have the unmitigated gall to rob a train? Well, Pierce would, for one. And why would he commit such a dastardly crime? Because, as Pierce explained, as if talking to a three year old, he wanted the money.
As in his fiction books, Crichton's research into Victorian London and train travel is solid, and the book has a sense of unquestionable authenticity. One gets the feeling Crichton had a lot of fun writing it. We see a lot of Crichton himself in Pierce: his intelligence, his wit, his painstaking attention to detail. The book scores both as a good novel and well-researched social history. It's one of Crichton's best.
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on November 25, 2002
This true story set in Victorian London in 1855 is a beauty of a read. With Michael Crichton weaving his magic over the scene and Edward Pierce, mastermind and protagonist, we have an unbeatable combination. The author does wonders describing authentic period scenes and showing us the huge divide between the English middle class and the wretched poor in Victorian times.
Edward Pierce wants 12,000 pounds sterling that will be sent by rail to fund the Crimean War. The obstacles are huge. It takes four keys to get to and unlock the safe. This was before the days of nitroglycerine, so the safe could not be blown, and it was too heavy to carry away. All four keys are held by separate persons and must be found and copied. The thieves have to get the payload unseen off of a moving train. Mr. Pierce has a hazy background, presents himself as a wealthy traveling businessman with a fine home in London, a well-dressed gentleman with an appreciation of the finer things. As we get to know him better, we learn he has nerves of steel, a quick and clever wit, and is relentless planner with infinite patience. He is blessed with a mysterious mistress, Miriam, whose acting abilities could put Meryl Streep to shame. The suspense and tension as Pierce and his accomplice, Robert Algar, work for a solid year on their plan is riveting. Naturally, when the heist takes place, even the most careful plans have to change with unforeseen circumstances. Will they get away with it? Read it and see.
The author puts us in the skins of Victorian people of the time. For instance, the police department is only 25 years old. London citizens were accustomed to being very hands-on when a crime is committed. Not like today when one's first thought is to call the police. If a criminal was observed picking a pocket, there would likely be a great hue and cry by the nearest citizens and all would chase the thief until they caught him. Only then, would they call the police. A married woman was the "property" of her husband. This of course, is abominable for her human rights, but if she is caught say counterfeiting money, her husband goes to jail, not her. After all, he is responsible for his property.
"The Great Train Robbery" was made into a movie in the late '70s with Sean Connery as Mr. Pierce. One way or another, I am going to see it. This is a great read and a well-done social history of one of the most fascinating men of the age. Highly recommended.
-sweetmolly-Amazon Reviewer
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