The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel

The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel by Douglas Brunt

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel:

The engine’s name is truly apt.

Quick synopsis:

The life and mysterious death of the creator of the Diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel.

Fact for Non-History People:

By 1885, there were only 250,000 electric light bulbs in America. By 1902, there were 18 million.

Fact for History Nerds:

In 1899, the first speeding ticket was issued in America to cabbie in New York City was jailed for doing 12 MPH in an 8 MPH zone. Speed demon.

My Take on The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel:

I am always wary of reading a book from an author who is primarily known for novels. This is not an indictment of a novel writer, but I have bad experiences where certain writers will try to inject suspense and excitement into historical episodes which are well known.

Luckily, I can confirm that Douglas Brunt does not fall into this trap. Brunt’s The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel follows the life of the eponymous engine creator. Brunt is an excellent writer, but what really comes through is his love for his subject. I don’t just mean Diesel himself but also his engineering. Brunt explains the creation of the engine, its proliferation, and how many different people reacted to its unveiling. I will say that some passages are clearly trying to lead in a certain direction (more on that in a minute), but overall, the story flows quite well.

Now, about that ending. Brunt attempts to solve the mystery of Diesel’s disappearance. I will say that Brunt does not hedge his bet in any way. I would also say I do not think he proved his conclusion and quite frankly I disagree with it. That said, this book is way more than its ending and I definitely enjoyed the journey.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Atria Books.)


A fun history book which reads like a novel in a good way. Buy it here!

If You Liked This Try:





Leave a Reply