The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel: Genius, Power, and Deception on the Eve of World War I

Written by:
Douglas Brunt
Narrated by:
Scott Brick

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
September 2023
12 hours 41 minutes
This instant New York Times bestselling “dynamic detective story” (The New York Times) reveals the hidden history Rudolf Diesel, one of the world’s greatest inventors, and his mysterious disappearance on the eve of World War I.

September 29, 1913: the steamship Dresden is halfway between Belgium and England. On board is one of the most famous men in the world, Rudolf Diesel, whose new internal combustion engine is on the verge of revolutionizing global industry forever. But Diesel never arrives at his destination. He vanishes during the night and headlines around the world wonder if it was an accident, suicide, or murder.

After rising from an impoverished European childhood, Diesel had become a multi-millionaire with his powerful engine that does not require expensive petroleum-based fuel. In doing so, he became not only an international celebrity but also the enemy of two extremely powerful men: Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil and the richest man in the world.

The Kaiser wanted the engine to power a fleet of submarines that would finally allow him to challenge Great Britain’s Royal Navy. But Diesel had intended for his engine to be used for the betterment of the world.

Now, New York Times bestselling author Douglas Brunt reopens the case and provides an “absolutely riveting” (Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author) new conclusion about Diesel’s fate. Brunt’s book is “equal parts Walter Isaacson and Sherlock Holmes, [and] yanks back the curtain on the greatest caper of the 20th century in this riveting history” (Jay Winik, New York Times bestselling author).
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This is not my typical choice of book and it’s an understatement to say I have absolutely NO interest in engines, but I’m trying to expand my reading horizons. And with this book, I’m so very glad I did!!! Is it an easy book? No. For someone like me who is not interested in its focused topic, it was often dry as a bone…BUT…the facts that were presented were utterly fascinating! And as such, I trudged through the parts that were too detailed for me regarding engine mechanics. Even through that trudging though, I picked up an understanding of how engines work and I’m quite grateful for that! It was a force feed but not distasteful. I listened to the book via the audio version and the narrator, hands down, was a wonderful addition and helped tremendously to make this topic interesting. The overarching story about Rudolph Diesel is fantastic!

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Chadwick G.

Fascinating story. Meticulously researched. The beginning and end of the book, I couldn't turn it off. The middle was a little slow and heavy on naval history, but overall, it was a really interesting listen.

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Dio F.

Sorry, but didn't think this book was that good. On the positive it does illustrate the build up to the First World War very well, on the down quite a bit of the book devolves into a lengthy conspiracy quest for the perpetrators involved in the disappearance of Herr Diesel, the Rockerfellas, the German Kaiser, Churchill. Also, the book also gives great detail into a very creative inventor that has fallen into obscurity.

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Zaida H.

Love it! Very intriguing.

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Tim S.

great story.. well written.

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Helen H.

Very interesting! Learned a lot about the Diesel engine. Highly recommend.

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Timothy H.

I loved this book. I'm happy when I can learn a thing or two from any book. So many things in the book made me say, "I didn't know anything about that." Too bad so many countries are phasing out the Diesel engines. I hope we see more in combination with EV and biofuels.

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Daniel S.

Very well written and narrated. And a true story that should not be lost to history. As a construction business owner I have been around Diesel engines my whole adult life but I knew nothing of the inventor or his quite amazing life. He played a big part in the amazing times in which he lived.

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Such an interesting story. The author has managed to tell this tale in such a riveting way, that even non-mechanically inclined listeners like myself are hooked from start to finish.

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Such an interesting story. The author has managed to tell this tale in such a riveting way, that even non-mechanically inclined listeners like myself are hooked from start to finish.

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Anne M.


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