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American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century

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American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century Cover

ISBN13: 9780307346940
ISBN10: 0307346943
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

American Lightning is history at its most gripping. Fans of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood will not want to miss this one. The subject is the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times offices, and Howard Blum’s narrative of America 100 years ago will appeal to crime buffs, Hollywood historians, and armchair detectives. With unforgettable characters and a thriller’s plot, American Lightning will keep you reading!
Recommended by Beth, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"This is popular history, written to be as entertaining as fiction. Blum creates a fictional effect by omitting the dull stuff, and never pausing to explain where his information comes from. This creates a sense of certainty about material that, on reflection, sometimes seems doubtable, but it keeps the story moving fast." Russell Baker, The New York Review of Books (read the entire New York Review of Books review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

It was an explosion that reverberated across the country—and into the very heart of early-twentieth-century America. On the morning of October 1, 1910, the walls of the Los Angeles Times Building buckled as a thunderous detonation sent men, machinery, and mortar rocketing into the night air. When at last the wreckage had been sifted and the hospital triage units consulted, twenty-one people were declared dead and dozens more injured. But as it turned out, this was just a prelude to the devastation that was to come.

In American Lightning, acclaimed author Howard Blum masterfully evokes the incredible circumstances that led to the original "crime of the century" — and an aftermath more dramatic than even the crime itself.

With smoke still wafting up from the charred ruins, the city's mayor reacts with undisguised excitement when he learns of the arrival, only that morning, of America's greatest detective, William J. Burns, a former Secret Service man who has been likened to Sherlock Holmes. Surely Burns, already world famous for cracking unsolvable crimes and for his elaborate disguises, can run the perpetrators to ground.

Through the work of many months, snowbound stakeouts, and brilliant forensic sleuthing, the great investigator finally identifies the men he believes are responsible for so much destruction. Stunningly, Burns accuses the men — labor activists with an apparent grudge against the Los Angeles Times's fiercely anti-union owner — of not just one heinous deed but of being part of a terror wave involving hundreds of bombings.

While preparation is laid for America's highest profile trial ever — and the forces of labor and capital wage hand-to-hand combat in the streets — two other notable figures are swept into the drama: industry-shaping filmmaker D.W. Griffith, who perceives in these events the possibility of great art and who will go on to alchemize his observations into the landmark film The Birth of a Nation; and crusading lawyer Clarence Darrow, committed to lend his eloquence to the defendants, though he will be driven to thoughts of suicide before events have fully played out.

Simultaneously offering the absorbing reading experience of a can't-put-it-down thriller and the perception-altering resonance of a story whose reverberations continue even today, American Lightning is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction.

Review:

One of the bloodiest and most spectacular American crimes of the 20th century took place in October 1910, when a series of explosions ripped through the headquarters of the Los Angeles Times, killing 21 people and doing extensive damage. The attack occurred at a time when the country generally and California in particular were torn by a variety of conflicts, many having to do with labor and capital,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"As good a true-crime tale as you could hope to find, well-researched, vivid, irresistible." Andrew Solomon, author of the National Book Award-winning The Noonday Demon

Review:

"Master detective William Burns on one side and famed attorney Clarence Darrow on the other....A riveting account of 20th century homegrown political terrorism." Library Journal

Review:

"Blum...build[s] suspense with an astonishing cast of characters in the unfolding drama of the American labor movement. Completely riveting." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Blum is at his best when exploring the motivations, the genius and the deep flaws of his three principals, men who occupied the same room only once in their lives, but who are memorably linked in this book. Unfailingly entertaining." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Synopsis:

A masterpiece of narrative history that vividly brings to life the original crime of the century, American Lightning shows the lasting impact the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times offices had on three remarkable individuals and, through them, the country itself.

Synopsis:

US

About the Author

Howard Blum is the author of eight previous books, including the national bestsellers Wanted!, The Gold of Exodus, and Gangland. Currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Blum was also a reporter at the New York Times, where he won numerous journalism awards and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Stewart, November 5, 2008 (view all comments by Stewart)
The first part of this book is fascinating dealing with the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times offices and the ensuing chase to find the culprits. Intertwined in this true tale are detctive William Burns, filmmaker D.W.Griffith, and Clarence Darrow, the legendary lawyer who nearly saw his career lost because of his involvement in the trial.

The book tends to drag once the culprits are captured and their trial begins. All in all, though, this is a compelling story that would actually make an excellent film.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307346940
Author:
Blum, Howard
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Bombings
Subject:
Terrorism
Subject:
Murder - General
Subject:
United States - State & Local - West
Subject:
United States - 20th Century (1900-1945)
Subject:
Bombings - California - Los Angeles -
Subject:
Terrorism - California - Los Angeles -
Subject:
World History-General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20080931
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 8-PAGE BandW INSERT
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.38x6.70x1.23 in. 1.39 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Crime » True Crime
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1860 to 1920
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Crown Publishing Group (NY) - English 9780307346940 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

American Lightning is history at its most gripping. Fans of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood will not want to miss this one. The subject is the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times offices, and Howard Blum’s narrative of America 100 years ago will appeal to crime buffs, Hollywood historians, and armchair detectives. With unforgettable characters and a thriller’s plot, American Lightning will keep you reading!

"Review A Day" by , "This is popular history, written to be as entertaining as fiction. Blum creates a fictional effect by omitting the dull stuff, and never pausing to explain where his information comes from. This creates a sense of certainty about material that, on reflection, sometimes seems doubtable, but it keeps the story moving fast." (read the entire New York Review of Books review)
"Review" by , "As good a true-crime tale as you could hope to find, well-researched, vivid, irresistible."
"Review" by , "Master detective William Burns on one side and famed attorney Clarence Darrow on the other....A riveting account of 20th century homegrown political terrorism."
"Review" by , "Blum...build[s] suspense with an astonishing cast of characters in the unfolding drama of the American labor movement. Completely riveting."
"Review" by , "Blum is at his best when exploring the motivations, the genius and the deep flaws of his three principals, men who occupied the same room only once in their lives, but who are memorably linked in this book. Unfailingly entertaining."
"Synopsis" by , A masterpiece of narrative history that vividly brings to life the original crime of the century, American Lightning shows the lasting impact the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times offices had on three remarkable individuals and, through them, the country itself.
"Synopsis" by , US
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