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The Devil's Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century

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The Devil's Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century Cover

ISBN13: 9780345476791
ISBN10: 0345476794
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From renowned true-crime historian Harold Schechter, whom The Boston Book Review hails as "America's principal chronicler of its greatest psychopathic killers," comes the riveting exploration of a notorious, sensational New York City murder in the 1890s, the fascinating forensic science of an earlier age, and the explosively dramatic trial that became a tabloid sensation at the turn of the century.

Death was by poison and came in the mail: A package of Bromo Seltzer had been anonymously sent to Harry Cornish, the popular athletic director of Manhattan's elite Knickerbocker Athletic Club. Cornish barely survived swallowing a small dose; his cousin Mrs. Katherine Adams died in agony after ingesting the toxic brew. Scandal sheets owned by Hearst and Pulitzer eagerly jumped on this story of fatal high-society intrigue, speculating that the devious killer was a chemist, a woman, or "an effeminate man." Forensic studies suggested cyanide as the cause of death; handwriting on the deadly package and the vestige of a label glued to the bottle pointed to a handsome, athletic society scamp, Roland Molineux.

The wayward son of a revered Civil War general, Molineux had clashed bitterly with Cornish before. He had even furiously denounced Cornish when penning his resignation from the Knickerbocker Club, a letter that later proved a major clue. Bon vivant Molineux had recently wed the sensuous Blanche Chesebrough, an opera singer whose former lover, Henry Barnet, had also recently died...after taking medicine sent to him through the mail. Molineux's subsequent indictment for murder led to two explosive trials, a sex-infused scandal that shocked the nation, and a lurid print-media circus that ended in madness and a proud family's disgrace.

In bold, brilliant strokes, Schechter captures all the colors of the tumultuous legal case, gathering his own evidence and tackling subjects no one dared address at the time — all in hopes of answering the tantalizing question: What powerfully dark motives could drive the wealthy scion of an eminent New York family to foul murder?

Schechter vividly portrays the case's fascinating cast of characters, including Julian Hawthorne, son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, a prolific yellow journalist who covered the story, and proud General Edward Leslie Molineux, whose son's ignoble deeds besmirched a dignified national hero's final years. All the while Schechter brings alive Manhattan's Gilded Age: a gaslit world of elegant town houses and hidden bordellos, chic restaurants and shabby opium dens, a city peopled by men and women fighting and losing the battle against urges an upright era had ordered suppressed.

Superbly researched and powerfully written, The Devil's Gentleman is an insightful, gripping work, a true-crime historian's crowning achievement.

Review:

"True-crime historian Schechter (co-author, The A-Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers) delivers a thrilling account of a murder case that rocked Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. Roland Molineux, a socially ambitious chemist, was a proud member of the Knickerbocker Athletic Club, where he was considered a talented but snooty sportsman, repeatedly instigating spats with the club's athletic director, Harry Cornish. Pursuing women with the same determination he brought to sports, Roland doggedly wooed Blanche Chesebrough, an equally ambitious young woman with operatic aspirations. But when one of Molineux's romantic competitors, Henry Barnet, died, Cornish was poisoned (he survived) and his landlady died, Roland topped the list of suspects. The ensuing investigation and sensational trial became one of the costliest in New York State history. Schechter expertly weaves a rich historical tapestry — exploring everything from the birth of yellow journalism to the history of poison as a murder weapon — without sacrificing a novelistic sense of character, pacing and suspense. The result is a riveting tale of murder, seduction and tabloid journalism run rampant in a New York not so different from today's. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"True-crime historian Schechter (co-author, The A-Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers) delivers a thrilling account of a murder case that rocked Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. Roland Molineux, a socially ambitious chemist,was a proud member of the Knickerbocker Athletic Club, where he was considered a talented but snooty sportsman, repeatedly instigating spats with the club's athletic director, Harry Cornish. Pursuing women with the same determination he brought to sports, Roland doggedly wooed Blanche Chesebrough, an equally ambitious young woman with operatic aspirations. But when one of Molineux's romantic competitors, Henry Barnet, died, Cornish was poisoned (he survived) and his landlady died, Roland topped the list of suspects. The ensuing investigation and sensational trial became one of the costliest in New York State history. Schechter expertly weaves a rich historical tapestry — exploring everything from the birth of 'yellow' journalism to the history of poison as a murder weapon — without sacrificing a novelistic sense of character, pacing and suspense. The result is a riveting tale of murder, seduction and tabloid journalism run rampant in a New York not so different from today's. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[S]in, sex, jealousy and revenge in sepia-toned Manhattan....The book is like a fin-de-siècle version of Court TV, a riveting sequence of appalling events, weird testimony, courtroom theatrics and bungled justice." New York Times

Review:

"Skillfully captures a colorful mishmash of New York characters caught up in a moment of extreme public anxiety." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

It was the biggest funeral Chicago had seen since Lincolnand#8217;s. On May 26, 1889, four thousand mourners proceeded down Michigan Avenue, followed by a crowd forty thousand strong, in a howl of protest at what commentators called and#147;one of the ghastliest and most curious crimes in civilized history.and#8221; The dead man, Dr. P. H. Cronin, was a respected Irish physician, but his brutal murder uncovered a web of intrigue, secrecy, and corruption that stretched across the United States and far beyond.

Blood Runs Green tells the story of Croninand#8217;s murder from the police investigation to the trial. It is a story of hotheaded journalists in pursuit of sensational crimes, of a bungling police force riddled with informers and spies, and of a secret revolutionary society determined to free Ireland but tearing itself apart at the seams. It is also the story of a booming immigrant population clamoring for power at a time of unprecedented change.

From backrooms to courtrooms, historian Gillian Oand#8217;Brien deftly navigates the complexities of Irish Chicago, bringing to life a rich cast of characters and tracing the spectacular rise and fall of the secret Irish American society Clan na Gael. She draws on real-life accounts and sources from the United States, Ireland, and Britain to cast new light on Clan na Gael and reveal how Irish republicanism swept across the United States. Destined to be a true crime classic, Blood Runs Green is an enthralling tale of a murder that captivated the world and reverberated through society long after the coffin was closed.

Synopsis:

This gripping story of an aristocratic serial killer who terrorized New York City at the turn of the 20th century offers a stunning nonfiction narrative by one of Americas foremost historians of true crime.

About the Author

Harold Schechter is a professor of American literature and culture at Queens College, the City University of New York. He is widely celebrated for both fiction and true-crime writing, including The Serial Killer Files. He lives in Brooklyn and Mattituck, Long Island, with his wife, the poet Kimiko Hahn. Visit the author's website at www.haroldschechter.com.

Table of Contents

Cast of Characters

Chronology

Prologue: Requiem

1and#160; and#147;City of Big Shouldersand#8221;: The Convergence of the Clan

2and#160; The United Brotherhood

3and#160; The Dynamite War

4and#160; and#147;Secret Hatredsand#8221;: A Tale of Two Trials

5and#160; and#147;Boys, I Give Upand#8221;

6and#160; and#147;The Darkest and Bloodiest Mysteries of Secret Crimeand#8221;

7and#160; and#147;The Whisper of Silenceand#8221;

8and#160; and#147;Truth in Essentials, Imagination in Non-Essentialsand#8221;: The Press and Public Entertainment

9and#160; and#147;A Theater of Great Sensationsand#8221;

10and#160; and#147;Remember Croninand#8221;

Acknowledgments

Note on Sources

Notes

Organizations and Terms

Bibliography

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Robert Bethea, October 26, 2007 (view all comments by Robert Bethea)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even found it hard to put down, and yet I didn't want it to end.
It tells the story of a rather pretentious scion of a Distinguished military family.
It has all the right ingredients for a good mystery.
The beautiful and not too moral victorian lady who is pursued by two gentlemen, and only one would survive this courtship.
The protagonist is a man of education and studied refinement who lacks nothing except for a sense of morality. A real Sociopath before the term came into use.
He is jealous of his love's other suitor and even the manager of his athletic club.
By means of an elaborate and well thought out plan his wife's suiter is poisoned and his nemesis at the that club is also the recipient of a poisined package. It is a box of fine chocolate candy which he shares with his lady friend's mother much to her misfortune. She doesn't survive, but the manager does and becomes the prosecution's star witness .
The book unfolds with the story of an intense investigation. there is a trial at which the protagonist is convicted of the murder of the unfortunate lady who loved chocolates
The evidence is mostly circumstantial, but captures the imagination of the whole country having been fed by the greatest scandal sheets of the time.
The central character is imprissioned and sentenced to death, but is given a chance with the court of appeals.
This time his team does a great job of discrediting the witneses and our protagonist is set free.
The murder is never solved, but one has the distinct feeling that we know the answer to that question.
The book then tells the fate of the central characters, none of which escaped this crime unscathed.
It was a real true life mystery which compelled me to find other books by Mr. Schecter. He has found his niche as the chronicler fs some of the most famous, and some fairly unknown murder cases.
I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery spiced with seedy characters and unrequited love.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780345476791
Subtitle:
The Murder that Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago
Author:
Schechter, Harold
Author:
O'Brien, Gillian
Publisher:
University Of Chicago Press
Subject:
Murder
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Murder - General
Subject:
Murder - Serial Killers
Subject:
United States Social conditions 1865-1918.
Subject:
Murder -- New York (State) -- New York.
Subject:
United States - 19th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20150315
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
26 halftones
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in
Age Level:
a gaslit world of elegant town houses and hidden b

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Crime » General

The Devil's Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial That Ushered in the Twentieth Century Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.50 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345476791 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "True-crime historian Schechter (co-author, The A-Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers) delivers a thrilling account of a murder case that rocked Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. Roland Molineux, a socially ambitious chemist, was a proud member of the Knickerbocker Athletic Club, where he was considered a talented but snooty sportsman, repeatedly instigating spats with the club's athletic director, Harry Cornish. Pursuing women with the same determination he brought to sports, Roland doggedly wooed Blanche Chesebrough, an equally ambitious young woman with operatic aspirations. But when one of Molineux's romantic competitors, Henry Barnet, died, Cornish was poisoned (he survived) and his landlady died, Roland topped the list of suspects. The ensuing investigation and sensational trial became one of the costliest in New York State history. Schechter expertly weaves a rich historical tapestry — exploring everything from the birth of yellow journalism to the history of poison as a murder weapon — without sacrificing a novelistic sense of character, pacing and suspense. The result is a riveting tale of murder, seduction and tabloid journalism run rampant in a New York not so different from today's. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "True-crime historian Schechter (co-author, The A-Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers) delivers a thrilling account of a murder case that rocked Manhattan at the turn of the 20th century. Roland Molineux, a socially ambitious chemist,was a proud member of the Knickerbocker Athletic Club, where he was considered a talented but snooty sportsman, repeatedly instigating spats with the club's athletic director, Harry Cornish. Pursuing women with the same determination he brought to sports, Roland doggedly wooed Blanche Chesebrough, an equally ambitious young woman with operatic aspirations. But when one of Molineux's romantic competitors, Henry Barnet, died, Cornish was poisoned (he survived) and his landlady died, Roland topped the list of suspects. The ensuing investigation and sensational trial became one of the costliest in New York State history. Schechter expertly weaves a rich historical tapestry — exploring everything from the birth of 'yellow' journalism to the history of poison as a murder weapon — without sacrificing a novelistic sense of character, pacing and suspense. The result is a riveting tale of murder, seduction and tabloid journalism run rampant in a New York not so different from today's. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[S]in, sex, jealousy and revenge in sepia-toned Manhattan....The book is like a fin-de-siècle version of Court TV, a riveting sequence of appalling events, weird testimony, courtroom theatrics and bungled justice."
"Review" by , "Skillfully captures a colorful mishmash of New York characters caught up in a moment of extreme public anxiety."
"Synopsis" by ,
It was the biggest funeral Chicago had seen since Lincolnand#8217;s. On May 26, 1889, four thousand mourners proceeded down Michigan Avenue, followed by a crowd forty thousand strong, in a howl of protest at what commentators called and#147;one of the ghastliest and most curious crimes in civilized history.and#8221; The dead man, Dr. P. H. Cronin, was a respected Irish physician, but his brutal murder uncovered a web of intrigue, secrecy, and corruption that stretched across the United States and far beyond.

Blood Runs Green tells the story of Croninand#8217;s murder from the police investigation to the trial. It is a story of hotheaded journalists in pursuit of sensational crimes, of a bungling police force riddled with informers and spies, and of a secret revolutionary society determined to free Ireland but tearing itself apart at the seams. It is also the story of a booming immigrant population clamoring for power at a time of unprecedented change.

From backrooms to courtrooms, historian Gillian Oand#8217;Brien deftly navigates the complexities of Irish Chicago, bringing to life a rich cast of characters and tracing the spectacular rise and fall of the secret Irish American society Clan na Gael. She draws on real-life accounts and sources from the United States, Ireland, and Britain to cast new light on Clan na Gael and reveal how Irish republicanism swept across the United States. Destined to be a true crime classic, Blood Runs Green is an enthralling tale of a murder that captivated the world and reverberated through society long after the coffin was closed.

"Synopsis" by , This gripping story of an aristocratic serial killer who terrorized New York City at the turn of the 20th century offers a stunning nonfiction narrative by one of Americas foremost historians of true crime.
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