Read For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Chicago by Simon Baatz Free Online
Book Title: For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Chicago|
The author of the book: Simon Baatz
Date of issue: August 5th 2008
ISBN 13: 9780060781002
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.48 MB
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It was a crime that shocked the nation: the brutal murder in Chicago in 1924 of a child by two wealthy college students who killed solely for the thrill of the experience. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were intellectual--too smart, they believed, for the police to catch them. When they were apprehended, state's attorney Robert Crowe was certain that no defense could save the ruthless killers from the gallows. But the families of the confessed murderers hired Clarence Darrow, entrusting the lives of their sons to the most famous lawyer in America in what would be one of the most sensational criminal trials in the history of American justice.
Set against the backdrop of the 1920s--a time of prosperity, self-indulgence, and hedonistic excess in a lawless city on the brink of anarchyâ€”For the Thrill of It draws the reader into a world of speakeasies and flappers, of gangsters and gin parties, with a spellbinding narrative of Jazz Age murder and mystery.
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Read information about the authorSimon Baatz received his PhD in history at the University of Pennsylvania. He now teaches legal history at John Jay College in New York.
Q & A with Simon Baatz about Girl on the Velvet Swing.
What attracted you to this subject?
It’s a sensational story that resonates with recent events in our own time. A sixteen-year-old girl arrives in New York and meets a wealthy, influential man three times her age. Stanford White lures Evelyn Nesbit to his apartment on a pretext, drugs her and sexually assaults her. Four years later she marries a millionaire playboy, Harry Thaw, who shoots and kills White in a crowded theatre. What could be more sensational than that?
What was most enjoyable about your research?
There were 14 daily newspapers in New York at the time and they all fastened on the scandal to boost circulation. The reporters interviewed everyone who had something to say about the affair and the newspaper articles were invariably written in a lively, engaging style. I have included many quotations in the book and I should say here that these quotations, including the dialogue, were always taken verbatim from contemporary newspaper accounts. I have taken great care to be faithful to the sources listed in the endnotes. Nothing has been invented or imagined.
What is new and noteworthy about The Girl on the Velvet Swing?
Previous authors have written about the murder, but their accounts have all relied disproportionately on Evelyn Nesbit’s 1934 autobiography, Prodigal Days. But Nesbit’s book, written three decades after the murder, is not entirely reliable; she confuses some details and she occasionally contradicts herself. The newspapers of the day were generally trustworthy – their accounts corroborate each other – and Girl on the Velvet Swing, because it is based on those contemporary accounts, is, I believe, the most accurate telling of the murder and its aftermath.
What relevance does this story have today?
There have been many scandalous revelations in the last decade about the behavior of well-connected, influential men – the allegations against Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein are only the most recent – and this book is a reminder that predatory behavior is not something new but has existed, unfortunately, throughout American history. The difference between our time and the last century is that everyone now has access to the Internet and it has become correspondingly more difficult to conceal sexual crimes against women. If Evelyn Nesbit, for example, had not married Harry Thaw and if Thaw had not shot Stanford White, no-one would ever have known about the sexual assault. This is not to say, of course, that our society is perfect in this regard – far from it – but only that many more people now have a way to publicize crimes against women and children.