✽ True Crime: An American Anthology kindle Epub ❁ Author Harold Schechter – Papercuts.co

Americans Have Had An Uneasy Fascination With Crime Since The Earliest European Settlements In The New World, And Right From The Start True Crime Writing Became A Dominant Genre In American Writing True Crime An American Anthology Offers The First Comprehensive Look At The Many Ways In Which American Writers Have Explored Crime In A Multitude Of Aspects The Dark Motives That Spur It, The Shock Of Its Impact On Society, The Effort To Make Sense Of The Violent Extremes Of Human Behavior Here Is The Full Spectrum Of The True Crime Genre, Including Accounts Of Some Of The Most Notorious Criminal Cases In American History The Helen Jewett Murder And The Once Notorious Kentucky Tragedy Of The S, The Assassination Of President Garfield, The Snyder Gray Murder That Inspired Double Indemnity, The Lindbergh Kidnapping, The Black Dahlia, Leopold And Loeb, And The Manson Family True Crime Draws Upon The Writing Of Literary Figures As Diverse As Nathaniel Hawthorne Reporting On A Visit To A Waxworks Exhibit Of Notorious Crimes , Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, Theodore Dreiser Offering His Views On A Murder That Some Saw As A Copycat Version Of An American Tragedy , James Thurber, Joseph Mitchell, And Truman Capote And Sources As Varied As Execution Sermons, Murder Ballads, Early Broadsides And Trial Reports, And Tabloid Journalism Of Many Different Eras It Also Features The Influential True Crime Writing Of Best Selling Contemporary Practitioners Like James Ellroy, Gay Talese, Dominick Dunne, And Ann Rule


10 thoughts on “True Crime: An American Anthology

  1. says:

    In the editor s forward to True Crime An American Anthology, Harold Schechter begins by quoting from Plato s The Republic the virtuous man is content to dream what a wicked man really does I found this amusing, for no other reason than Schechter seemed to be presumptively on the defensive, which is a position that any true crime reader will eventually find themselves in You take it as a given that people will ask you why you d ever want to read such horrible things On the bus, you hide your trade paperback about the Gainseville Ripper inside The Davinci Code, to keep from getting the reputation as the creepy guy who reads about serial killers Of course, these are the same people who slow down to watch an accident on the highway We all share a mortal fascination, whether we cop to it or not I easily admit to being a crime junkie There s nothing better than a good 48 Hours Mystery on a Saturday night I ve worked on murder trials and delved through trial records, which are filled with crime scene photos and autopsy reports and pictures you never really forget and that force you to look Sometimes I think we all have a deep need to look at death, as though by studying its physical outlines that is, a dead body we can decipher some of its mystery The raison d etre of true crime, though, is the same as for horror films a good scare Statistically, the probability of being murdered is quite small the possibility of being murdered by a stranger is even smaller still Indeed, the most dangerous thing most of us will ever do in life we do every day, several times a day getting into a car The stuff that s mostly likely going to put us in our graves is not a Berkowitz or a Spector or a Bundy or a Dahmer or a Jack the Ripper Instead, it s the McDonald s french fries, the Marlboro cigarettes I ve seen some scary people and read a lot scary stories, but the only thing that terrifies me is cancer As to the ethics of experiencing these vicarious thrills at the expense of real tragedy Well, either way, the thing happened Not reading about it isn t going to bring back the dead That s my defense Onto the book True Crime purports to be an anthology of 500 years of crime writing The forward states that only murders are included, but there were two exceptions one a rape and one a suicide I was excited about this book, especially with some of the famous authors included in this compendium Ambrose Bierce, Theodore Dreiser, Jack Webb, Gay Talese, James Ellroy, Ann Rule, Dominick Dunne, etc I read the book straight through and was disappointed First, some of these stories are included based solely on their status as historical artifacts I m speaking of a paragraph taken from William Bradford s famous History of Plymouth Plantation, and the mad natterings of Cotton Mather, who wrote a series of prurient sermons telling of men hanged for sexing their animals T his Diabolical Creature, had Lived in most infandous Buggeries for no less than Fifty years together and now at the Gallows, there were killed before his Eyes, a Cow, Two Heifers, Three Sheep, and Two Sowes, with all of which he had Committed his Brutalities His Wife had seen him Confounding himself with a Bitch, Ten years before Note all the brutal crimes against grammar in that paragraph were committed by Cotton Mather You might even say that Mather was Confounding the English language Second, a lot of these stories didn t fit my definition of true crime In my mind, there are four parts to a good true crime story I m just spitballing here that can be traced to Capote s In Cold Blood 1 Introduction of the victim In this section, you should tell us who the victim is, so that we can sympathize when that person is killed It helps if your victim is young, white, and female Call this the Natalee Holloway Corollary, even though evidence suggests that Natalee wasn t murdered at all Capote follows this rule by first introducting the reader to Holcomb, Kansas, and the Clutter family 2 The Crime In this section, the crime is described This can be done in two ways First, the crime can be described as a narrative Or, and this is usual, you can describe the crime scene, then circle back to the actual crime as a flashback later in the book, as Capote does with Perry Smith s famous jailhouse confession 3 Hunt for the killers In this section, the dogged detectives hunt for clues, while the dastardly killer heads for Mexico 4 Resolution In this section, either the killer s is brought to justice, where there is a trial, or the story ends with a detective standing forlornly at the scene of the crime, vowing to never give up Captain Van Buren muses, You know, I still keep hoping I ll meet that man someday, the torso murderer Outside a red fuse flickers fitfully by the rails where an engine is switching, and in the distance the sky glows dully with the lights around Public Square A Rapid Transit train rattles and rolls, leaning on the curve, its windows a streak against the black cliffs and for an instant its headlight sweeps the foot of Jackass Hill But only for an instant the blackness closes in, the nightis impenetrable as ever From John Bartlow Martin s Butcher s Dozens A lot of these stories don t fit at all within the admittedly shaky paradigm I ve laid out The Bierce selection is a bunch of his newspaper clippings, in which his poisonous pen is on full display it s funny, but not true crime There is an excerpt from Mark Twain about frontier violence that is not about a murder at all, and is certainly not true Calvin Trillin s piece on Manson isn t even about Manson it s about the guy who owned the ranch where Manson once lived Then there s this selection by Jose Marti about the trial of Charles Guiteau, who assassinated Garfield Perhaps something got lost in the translation Marti was a transplanted Cuban , or perhaps the American courtroom has changed a lot since 1882, but Marti s account of the trial never touches on the crime itself Instead, it s a hysterical, mostly incoherent retelling of what Marti thought he was seeing during trial it really makes no sense at all Even when the stories were in keeping with true crime as I know it, I was unimpressed Damon Runyan s piece on the Snyder Gray trial went on forever It s memorable only for Runyan s endearing misogyny, and his wonderful observations Snyder is not bad looking I have seen much worse She is about thirty three and looks just about that, though you cannot tell much about blondes The piece by Dreiser, on the Edwards McKechnie murder a bludgeoning in a lake, which resembled the real life Gillette Brown murder and Dreiser s fictional An American Tragedy murder was nothing than Dreiser s uninformed opinion about the defense s opening statement There was some really good stuff, though The best stories, surprisingly or not, were written by women though the Ann Rule selection simply sucked Celia Thaxter s A Memorable Murder does an incredible job of capturing the cold and desolation of life and death on the Isle of Shoals, a rocky island off the coast of New Hampshire I also enjoyed Dorothy Kilgallen s Sex and the All American Boy, which insightfully draws a connection between our Puritanical views on sex outside of marriage and the murder of young pregnant girls by their boyfriends He was afraid He was afraid to talk to any of those who might have helped him That was what has struck me so forcibly about Bobby s puny, misspent young life He was afraid to confide in anyone whose mature advice and counsel might have shown him a bit of daylight on the road ahead He was afraid of society afraid and ashamed And out of his fear and his shame and his cowardice, he gambled away Freda s life and his own You might almost say it was society who handed him the dice and urged him to throw.Other highlights were Myer Berger s account of a WWII vet who went on a killing spree in Camden, New Jersey, killing 12, which is a masterful work of fast yet detailed long form reporting W.T Brannon s account of Richard Spector s massacre, titled Eight Girls, All Pretty, All Nurses, All Slain and James Ellroy s unflinchingly honest, introspective account of his own mother s murder The best story, though, and worth the price of the book, is Truman Capote s interview with Manson henchman Robert Beausoleil, titled Then It All Came Down Now, I knew that Capote was a raconteur and a name dropper, but reading this hilarious, pugnacious interview, I started to realize how pathological these traits were Even though he s talking to a man on death row, Capote is still telling stories about meeting Sirhan Sirhan Bobby Kennedy s murderer RB So what ve you been up to today TC Just around Had a little talk with Sirhan.RB Sirhan B Sirhan I knew him when they had me up on the Row He s a sick guy He don t belong here He ought to be in Atascadero Want some gum Yeah, well, you seem to know your way around here pretty good I was watching you out in the yard I was surprised the warden lets you walk around the yard by yourself Somebody might cut you.Being Capote, most of the interview is him talking, which is a plus especially if you can get his voice in your head For instance, Capote takes obvious relish describing the gas chamber to Robert, telling him about a separate room where they gather the effects of the condemned Unfinished crossword puzzles Unfinished letters Sweetheart snapshots Dim, crumbling little Kodak children Pathetic Capote talks about Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, the killers from In Cold Blood He s also a bantam little rooster, and challenges Robert at every turn He calls him a murderer He calls him out on his contradictory statements He tells him how he can see his face change as he lies He even gives him his theory that the common denominator of crime is the existence of a tattoo It s amazing to picture this fey writer verbally lacerating the convicted killer But the money shot is Capote s ego, which is always on display I was thinking I know Sirhan, and I knew Robert Kennedy I knew Lee Harvey Oswald, and I knew Jack Kennedy The odds against that one person knowing all four of those men must be astoundingI met him in Moscow just after he defectedOswald was staying at the Metropole, an old Czarist hotel just off Kremlin Square The Metropole has a big gloomy lobby full of shadows and dead palm trees And there he was, sitting in the dark under a dead palm tree Thin and pale, thin lipped, starved looking He was wearing chinos and tennis shoes and a lumberjack shirtWe talked to him for about half an hour, and my Italian friend didn t think the guy was worth filing a story about Just another paranoid hysteric the Moscow woods were rampant with those I never thought about him again, not until many years later Not until after the assassination when I saw his picture flashed on television.Only Capote would walk into a max security prison just to hear himself speak.Though I didn t like this collection much, it is redeeming in that it gives you a good idea of what to read next, and definitely left me with a desire to search out works by some of these authors.


  2. says:

    Whew 350 years of brilliant writing like took 350 years to finish reading Small printlots of pageslots of good writing, though It probably would be a good idea to mix in some lighter reading while delving into this tome as it is very lengthy murder porn which can be nightmare inducing Don t get me wrong, I regularly binge watch the Investigation Discovery channel until I convince myself that everyone is trying to kill me This book will convince you, too Enjoy


  3. says:

    We politely call it sang froid that inscrutible quality held by the most criminally minded deviants in society, both past and modern And yet, those fixated on the horrendous crimes commited thereby are not associated with having cold blood running through their veins How can this be possible Editor Harold Schechter directs the reader, in his introduction, to Plato for an answer to the question The virtuous man is content to dream what a wicked man really does To paraphrase, it is in the unrealized impulse which differentiates the perverse from the pious.And with this slice of philosophy opens True Crime An American Anthology. Rather than providing the reader with case after case of gruesome details on murders, assassinations, and crimes turned ugly, this tome presents some of the best examples of the true crime genre for a genre is truly what it has been for over 350 years written since the Colonists first set foot upon North American soil Arranged chronologically by date of first publication, each of the tales reprinted in this anthology have a single defining principle over the majority of true crime fare disseminated for public consumption the detailed focus on literary merit.While the book does tend to rely heavily upon marquee value with such authors as one might expect Truman Capote, James Ellroy, Ann Rule, et al on such subjects Charles Manson, Eric and Lyle Menendez, Ruth Snyder, etc , there is also a number of articles written by anonymous 18th and 19th Century sources, and many written about virtually unknown or nearly forgotten about cases over the past few centuries An Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln details a bizarre case of murder that very few Americans will likely have heard about A string of American poets write unique Murder Ballads based on events either real or somewhat imaginary which had happened in the criminal history of their country And a host of many others weigh in with their stories, the impartial and the ecclesiastical alike, of fascinating murders, trials, investigations, or gangland activities of not so bygone times.This is not a collection of cheap pulp stories in a fancy binding It is, in fact, an important monument to an American literary heritage too often exploited by hacks or dullards looking to cash in on somebody else s norotiety.


  4. says:

    An interesting anthology with a plethora of different authors Most were very interesting I skipped over a few of the entries but for the most part I really enjoyed reading the entries that were written in the same time frame as the crimes Perspective can be everything.


  5. says:

    Bound Oct 9, 2008, Miami Sun Posthttp miamisunpost.com archives 2008 Cold Hard Crime By John HoodAmericans dig their crime And why shouldn t we We re the most crime committing nation on the planet Hell, if I didn t know any better and I generally don t , I d say we commit crimes just for the fun of it We certainly commit em outta spite Outta spite is outta crime.Since we dig committing crimes so much, mad reason would indicate that we d also dig reading all about it, from the depths to the heights and beyond Which would kinda make editor Harold Schechter s mammoth True Crime An American Anthology Library of America 40 a book after our cold hard hearts now, wouldn t it Of course it would But to call True Crime a mere book is like calling Hearst Castle a simple house It is that massive Actually, at nearly 800 pages, Schechter s killer collection might better be called a doorstop for a walk in vault But you sure as hell wouldn t wanna use it as such, because then you d miss out on all the wildness within its ever liberating confines.And wild barely even begins to describe the utter insanity contained herein, which begins with the Pilgrims William Bradford s The Hanging of John Billington and ends with the Menendez brothers shotgun murder of their very own parents Dominick Dunne s Nightmare on Elm Drive.In between, the book is a beast, and it s teeming with the beastliest deeds ever chronicled by some of the best chroniclers ever to put ink to parchment, from the historical Cotton Mather, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln to the hysterical W.T Brannon , and the classic of old Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain and not so old Alexander Woollcott, Theodore Dreiser There s fist bricked newspaper columnists Damon Runyon, Jimmy Breslin, H.L Mencken , one of their most brawl bearing magazine counterparts A.J Leibling , and a gentleman storyteller who bridged both worlds and came up unbeatable Joseph Mitchell And there are women here, among them Susan Glaspell The Hossack Murder , Zora Neale Hurston The Trial of Ruby McCollum , Elizabeth Hardwick The Life and Death of Caryl Chessman , and Miriam Allen deFord Superman s Crime Loeb and Leopold.Most infamously, perhaps, are the scribes whose crime writing would go on to make them famous on screens big and small Men like Herbert Asbury The Gangs of New York , Jim The Grifters Thompson Ditch of Doom , Jack Dragnet Webb The Black Dahlia , Truman In Cold Blood Capote Then It All Came Down , and James L.A Confidential Ellroy My Mother s Killer.But by far the most representative writer included in this crime Bible is one Jay Robert Nash The Turner Stompanato Killing A Family Affair , the cat whose than 70 works are fervent attempts to capture each and every criminal America s ever produced and put them between covers Then again, what do you expect from a scribe whose spillful, spiteful Bloodletters and Badmen subs out with A Who s Who of Vile Men and Women Wanted For Every Crime in the Book You want crime True Crime s got it And then some Just so long as you re not afraid to do the time.


  6. says:

    The true crime story has always been an integral part of oral and written history Pirates, highwaymen, and political rebels were immortalized in ballads Thousands assembled for non Christian reasons to hear Puritan execution sermons and see the hangings that followed When crime became commercialized via the penny press, the reading public devoured stories about the axe murder of prostitute Helen Jewett in 1836 or the 1833 trial of Reverend Ephraim Avery for the death of his pregnant factory girl mistress In 1875, Celia Thaxter published an essay about a local mass murder called A Memorable Murder this nonfiction account told in story form foretold the works of Truman Capote, who described his bestseller In Cold Blood as a nonfiction novel If anyone did something heinous between 1880 and 1930 and stood trial for it, theirs was usually touted in the press as the Crime of the Century think Lizzie Borden or Leopold and Loeb True Crime An American Anthology is a series of faithfully reproduced stories, articles and essays that reveal how American crime reporting and writing has changed over the centuries Cotton Mather s Pillars of Salt is an extended religious tract, while Damon Runyon s The Eternal Blonde , written while covering the 1927 murder trial of Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray, is as superficial and flippant as the era Truman Capote s And It All Came Down is a jailhouse interview with Manson family member Bobby Beausoleil that yields some unsettling clues into the mind of a convicted killer Beausoleil says, Good or bad It s ALL good If it happens, it s got to be good Otherwise it wouldn t be happening My personal favorite was Theodore Dreiser s commentary on the 1934 trial of 23 year old Robert Allen Edwards for the drowning murder of his pregnant girlfriend The circumstances of the girl s death mirrored the storyline of Dreiser s 1925 masterpiece An American Tragedy, so the New York Post sent him to cover the story Dreiser s insights into the social and sexual forces that propelled Allen are masterpieces in psychology.This remarkable collection is both a history of the true crime genre and a harrowing record of man s inhumanity to man.


  7. says:

    The Library of America is best known for its dedication to keeping obscure but worthy American authors in print Critics noted that this collection affirms this tradition, drawing attention to authors and characters most readers would otherwise miss James Thurber, Theodore Dreiser, Susan Glaspell, and Zora Neale Hurston, for example Reviewers consistently emphasized Harold Schechter


  8. says:

    I would actually rate this 3.5 stars Overall, a very good anthology of true crime, but slightly below what I would call essential Schechter covers the bases documenting some of the most notorious crimes in American history, and he includes some of the essential writers A.J Liebling, Calvin Trillin , but to me,no crime anthology is complete without Edna Buchanan, who s routinely mentioned as one of the best crime writers of all time Given the size of this anthology, I m surprised that she wasn t included, while Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin were given of a cursory inclusion look at these important people, and they wrote about crime once Another thing I would have wished would be a little less focus on the big crimes of American history, and focus on just good quality writing There are plenty of great examples of exceptional journalism in areas like Miami, Birmingham, or Seattle Many of these cases failed to make national headlines, but as writing, they were first rate I think a few of these cases would have went a long way in making True Crime an indispensable anthology.


  9. says:

    A collection of true murder stories, some written by well known authors Some good, some not so good.


  10. says:

    This is a gem of old fashioned, true crime journalism at its finest.