The hidden history of one of the world’s greatest inventors, a man who disrupted the status quo and then disappeared into thin air on the eve of World War I—this book answers the hundred-year-old mystery of what really became of Rudolf Diesel.
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 mankind and refused to keep the technology out of the hands of the British or any other nation. For John D. Rockefeller, the engine was nothing less than an existential threat to his vast and lucrative oil empire. As electric lighting began to replace kerosene lamps, Rockefeller’s bottom line depended on the world’s growing thirst for gasoline to power its automobiles and industries.
At the outset of this new age of electricity and oil, Europe stood on the precipice of war. Rudolf Diesel grew increasingly concerned about Germany’s rising nationalism and military spending. The inventor was on his way to London to establish a new company that would help Britain improve its failing submarine program when he disappeared.
Now, New York Times bestselling author Douglas Brunt reopens the case and provides an astonishing new conclusion about Diesel’s fate. “Equal parts Walter Isaacson and Sherlock Holmes, The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel yanks back the curtain on the greatest caper of the 20th century in this riveting history” (Jay Winik, New York Times bestselling author).
About the Author
Douglas Brunt is the New York Times bestselling author of Ghosts of Manhattan, The Means, Trophy Son, and The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel, and host of the top-rated SiriusXM author podcast Dedicated with Doug Brunt. A Philadelphia native, he lives in New York with his wife and three children. Visit DouglasBrunt.com for more information.
“[A] thrilling investigation...Brunt’s audacious yet surprisingly tenable theory makes for a wildly enjoyable outing.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The author’s interest in history and politics shines through in his well-researched, engaging book...fascinating...a worthy read.” –Kirkus
“The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel sheds light on one of the most perplexing mysteries of the twentieth century, and on a man whose invention had the power to threaten empires and change the fate of nations. Written with the intensity of a thriller, this brilliant work will ensure the reader and the world will long remember Rudolf Diesel.” —Jack Carr, former Navy SEAL Sniper and #1 New York Times bestselling author of Only the Dead
“Equal parts Walter Isaacson and Sherlock Holmes, The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel yanks back the curtain on the greatest caper of the 20th century in this riveting history.” —Jay Winik, New York Times best selling author of 1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History
“Outstanding—Brunt mixes a historian's respect for research with a novelist's eye for character, adds fascinating context and connections, and reaches a conclusion worthy of James Bond.” —Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“A riveting, impressive, history-changing book. I couldn’t put it down and gasped at the conclusion. DIESEL is in the history Hall of Fame.” —Zibby Owens, host of Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books and author of Bookends and Blank
“A page turning crime thriller that also delivers a significant new understanding of the forces that shaped the outcome of World War I and beyond. This fascinating story, told in the most vivid fashion, about a name so many recognize has been missed by true crime aficionados and historians alike—until now. An important addition to 20th century history.” —Dan Abrams, New York Times bestselling author of Lincoln’s Last Trial
“Douglas Brunt delivers an unputdownable piece of nonfiction that reads like a taut thriller. Insightful, suspenseful, and thoroughly enjoyable, you will be absolutely captivated!” —Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dead Fall
“I loved this book as mesmerizing, you-can’t-make-this-up history about political leaders, inventors, and robber barons in the run-up to World War One; but I also devoured it as one of the strangest celebrity disappearing acts in modern history. Absolutely riveting.” — Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Flight Attendant and The Lioness
“This is a first-class piece of history as detective work, taking the reader into the dramatic world of the Second Reich, the power of America's early oil industry, and the British secret services. It is impeccably researched and yet reads with the excitement of a spy thriller.” —Gareth Russell, author of The Palace: From the Tudors to the Windsors, 500 Years of British History at Hampton Court