Release Date: 07/07/11
The Black Dahlia case. The Manson murders. The Zodiac Killer. The slaughter of JonBenet Ramsay. These killings, among many others in Bill James's astonishing chronicle of the history of American crime, have all created a frenzy of interest and speculation about human nature. And while many of us choose to avoid the news about gruesome murders, Bill James contends that these crime stories, which create such frenzy (and have throughout history), are as important to understanding our society, culture and history as anything we may consider to be a more 'serious' subject. The topic envelopes our society so completely, we almost forget about it. James looks at the ways in which society has changed by examining the development of how crimes have been committed, investigated and prosecuted. The book takes on such issues as the rise of an organized police force, the controversial use of the death penalty, the introduction of evidence such as fingerprinting and DNA, and the unexpected ways in which the most shocking crimes have shaped the criminal justice system and our perceptions of violence.
I tend to read a lot of true crime and I’m always interested to have my understanding as well as boundaries pushed by someone with an authoritive point of view that can back up their argument with not only facts but a plausible solution. Sadly this title by Baseball Journalist Bill James fell flat on all accounts.
Unlike true crime writers such former FBI Investigator Robert Ressler, who has interviewed many killers or Brian Masters who presents an even handed presentation of the facts, James has gone out on a limb and put many ill-informed concepts as well as arguments forward that sadly are ridiculously easy to over right with not only common sense but based on evidence presented in other titles make his own points seem almost childish in comparison.
Add to this a holier than thou attitude that no matter what is presented he’s always right and its sadly a title I wish I’d missed rather than spent my valuable time reading. A real shame as it had so much potential.