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The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age…

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City… (2011)

by Paul Collins

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3972626,945 (3.45)22
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    Killer Colt: Murder, Disgrace, and the Making of an American Legend by Harold Schechter (gtown)
    gtown: Two great non-fiction accounts about murder and media frenzies in 1800s New York, showing that not much has changed since then.

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The body was found in pieces, first the torso and arms in the East River, then the legs in some blueberry bushes in Harlem, as the Detectives (and reporters) investigate they end up out in Long Island, where there is water runoff where there shouldn’t be any and the ducks are coming out of the water with red on their feathers.

The press of the day jumped all over this, the reporters were doing as much investigating as the police and there was a fierce rivalry between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, one with an established but failing newspaper and the other his former protegee and becoming more popular. The reporters, followed leads, staked out residences. Commandeered pay phones, offered rewards for evidence found, at times helping and at times trampling over crime scenes and contaminating them.

Once the body was identified, the police were able to round up suspects, when two were finally brought to trial, the papers once again turned it into a circus.

This book has a great synopsis of the crime and life in the late 1800s in New York. We get a brief overview of the corruption of that time, also the dedication of the police officers and the forensics of the time. The author details the problems the prosecution had, the forensic scientist rumored to be attempting to poison his wife, the less than positive identification of the corpse, the defense claiming that the man their clients were accused of killing wasn’t even dead. The head was never found, and this was before anyone had even heard of DNA. They hadn’t even been convinced that fingerprints were a valid means of identification.

Still this is an extremely interesting book even with the extensive trial coverage. I would definitely recommend it. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Feb 14, 2015 |
Well researched and documented, this was more about the journalism of the day, especially the rivalry between Hearst and Pulitzer. It is easy to forget, in this day of forensics, crime scenes, and modern policing what it was like in 1897. The newspapers had their own investigators, with badges, and were little concerned with the 'truth', but more how sensational could they make any little detail. Modern day journalists are pale by comparison. ( )
  mysterymax | Jan 21, 2015 |
Couldn't finish it since it was actually kind of boring. If you are interested in "yellow journalism" and how Hurst and Pulitzer made their killing in newspaper it may be worth it to you but I wasn't interested enough. ( )
  carolvanbrocklin | Sep 18, 2014 |
If you thought the murder of the 19th century might be Lincoln's this book tells that the murder of a guy named Guldensuppe in June of 1897 was transformed into the 19th century's most prominent murder by the Hearst and Pulitzer New York papers. The murder is not a particularly interesting one but those papers made it a sensation. The book is mostly based on the lurid newppaer coverage of the case. The account is of varying interest. One of the accused was represented by William F. Howe, a bellering New York lawyer who got away with things in court which no self-respecting judge should have permitted. And one stands in amazement that alternate jurors could not be selected in New York at the time and for some 33 years thereafter! ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 18, 2013 |
Someone else had a similar review to the one I'd like to leave -- interesting story, but I couldn't get into the writing style. I read "The Devil in the White City" and "The Beautiful Cigar Girl" and loved them both. I tried to read this, hoping for the same history/crime balance and found this one lacking. Neither the story of the murder and the hunt for the killer, nor the tabloid wars were enough to hold my attention. ( )
  DataAngel | Nov 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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To Mom and Dad, who let me read the mysteries fromtheir bookshelf
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It was a slow afternoon for news.
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On Long Island, a farmer finds a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discover a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumble upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime are turning up all over New York, but the police are baffled: There are no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most baffling murder mystery. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Reenactments of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell's Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio, a hard luck cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor, all raced to solve the crime. What emerged was a sensational love triangle and an even more sensational trial: an unprecedented capital case hinging on circumstantial evidence around a victim whom the police couldn't identify with certainty, and who the defense claimed wasn't even dead. This book is a tale of America during the Gilded Age and a colorful re creation of the tabloid wars that have dominated media to this day.… (more)

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