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For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Chicago

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For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Chicago Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

It was a crime that shocked the nation, a 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 had first met several years earlier, and their friendship had blossomed into a love affair. Both were intellectuals—too smart, they believed, for the police to catch them. However, the police had recovered an important clue at the scene of the crime—a pair of eyeglasses—and soon both Leopold and Loeb were in the custody of Cook County. They confessed, and Robert Crowe, the state's attorney, announced to newspaper reporters that he had a hanging case. No defense, he believed, would save the two ruthless killers from the gallows.

Set against the backdrop of the 1920s, a time of prosperity, self-indulgence, and hedonistic excess, For the Thrill of It draws the reader into a lost world, a world of speakeasies and flappers, of gangsters and gin parties, that existed when Chicago was a lawless city on the brink of anarchy. The rejection of morality, the worship of youth, and the obsession with sex had seemingly found their expression in this callous murder.

But the murder is only half the story. After Leopold and Loeb were arrested, their families hired Clarence Darrow to defend their sons. Darrow, the most famous lawyer in America, aimed to save Leopold and Loeb from the death penalty by showing that the crime was the inevitable consequence of sexual and psychological abuse that each defendant had suffered during childhood at the hands of adults. Both boys, Darrow claimed, had experienced a compulsion to kill, and therefore, he appealed to the judge, they should be spared capital punishment. However, Darrow faced a worthy adversary in his prosecuting attorney: Robert Crowe was clever, cunning, and charismatic, with ambitions of becoming Chicago's next mayor—and he was determined to send Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb to their deaths.

A masterful storyteller, Simon Baatz has written a gripping account of the infamous Leopold and Loeb case. Using court records and recently discovered transcripts, Baatz shows how the pathological relationship between Leopold and Loeb inexorably led to their crime.

This thrilling narrative of murder and mystery in the Jazz Age will keep the reader in a continual state of suspense as the story twists and turns its way to an unexpected conclusion.

Review:

"In 1924, Nathan Leopold, 19, and Richard Loeb, 18, both intellectually precocious scions of wealthy Jewish Chicago families, kidnapped and brutally murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in an attempt to commit the 'perfect' crime. Historian Baatz, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, replays the crime (on which Meyer Levin's 1956 novel Compulsion was based) from the killers' point of view, detailing their intense, often sexual, relationship that culminated in the murder. But they left a crucial piece of evidence and eventually confessed to the murder. Clarence Darrow cleverly had the boys plead guilty to avoid a trial, and the legendary defense attorney went head to head with State's Attorney Robert Crowe in a sentencing hearing before Judge John Caverly. Both sides trotted out psychiatrists to testify whether Leopold and Loeb were mentally ill. Darrow's gamble paid off in life sentences. Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936; Leopold was eventually paroled in 1958. Baatz gives an acute portrait of the two murderers bound together in a web of fantasy, but his heavy reliance on novelistic techniques ('there! — he had done it') and meandering pacing prevent this from being as convincing as his exhaustive research deserves. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were sons of Chicago's Jewish aristocracy, youths — Leopold was 19 and Loeb 18 — who had been denied little in life and who gave every evidence of having brilliant futures. They were intelligent and had already graduated from first-class colleges. Yet on May 21, 1924, they did something appalling: They kidnapped a 14-year-old student named Bobby Franks, murdered him,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Book News Annotation:

Baatz (history, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and City U. of New York) places his primary sources in moody context in this narrative account of the 1924 murder of a child in Chicago by college students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. The impressive efforts of defense attorney Clarence Darrow and prosecutor Robert Crowe in the trial over the lives of the murderers make up much of the story. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

In the tradition of "The Devil in the White City" comes a riveting recreation of one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th century--the scandalous Leopold-Loeb murder case that shocked Chicago. Photos throughout.

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About the Author

Simon Baatzholds a joint appointment as associate professor of history at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060781002
Author:
Baatz, Simon
Publisher:
Harper
Author:
by Simon Baatz
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
General
Subject:
Legal History
Subject:
Murder
Subject:
Murderers
Subject:
Murder - General
Subject:
United States - State & Local - Midwest
Subject:
United States - 20th Century/20s
Subject:
Leopold, Nathan Freudenthal
Subject:
Loeb, Richard A.
Subject:
Crime - True Crime
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20080831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
560
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.28704 in 28.08 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Crime » General
History and Social Science » Crime » True Crime
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Chicago Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.50 In Stock
Product details 560 pages Harper - English 9780060781002 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In 1924, Nathan Leopold, 19, and Richard Loeb, 18, both intellectually precocious scions of wealthy Jewish Chicago families, kidnapped and brutally murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in an attempt to commit the 'perfect' crime. Historian Baatz, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, replays the crime (on which Meyer Levin's 1956 novel Compulsion was based) from the killers' point of view, detailing their intense, often sexual, relationship that culminated in the murder. But they left a crucial piece of evidence and eventually confessed to the murder. Clarence Darrow cleverly had the boys plead guilty to avoid a trial, and the legendary defense attorney went head to head with State's Attorney Robert Crowe in a sentencing hearing before Judge John Caverly. Both sides trotted out psychiatrists to testify whether Leopold and Loeb were mentally ill. Darrow's gamble paid off in life sentences. Loeb was murdered in prison in 1936; Leopold was eventually paroled in 1958. Baatz gives an acute portrait of the two murderers bound together in a web of fantasy, but his heavy reliance on novelistic techniques ('there! — he had done it') and meandering pacing prevent this from being as convincing as his exhaustive research deserves. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , In the tradition of "The Devil in the White City" comes a riveting recreation of one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th century--the scandalous Leopold-Loeb murder case that shocked Chicago. Photos throughout.
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