Reflections on the Celebration of Violence
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The man who revolutionized the way we think about baseball now examines our cultural obsession with murder—delivering a unique, engrossing, brilliant history of tabloid crime in America.
Celebrated writer and contrarian Bill James has voraciously read true crime throughout his life and has been interested in writing a book on the topic for decades. Now, with Popular Crime, James takes readers on an epic journey from Lizzie Borden to the Lindbergh baby, from the Black Dahlia to O. J. Simpson, explaining how crimes have been committed, investigated, prosecuted and written about, and how that has profoundly influenced our culture over the last few centuries— even if we haven’t always taken notice.
Exploring such phenomena as serial murder, the fluctuation of crime rates, the value of evidence, radicalism and crime, prison reform and the hidden ways in which crimes have shaped, or reflected, our society, James chronicles murder and misdeeds from the 1600s to the present day. James pays particular attention to crimes that were sensations during their time but have faded into obscurity, as well as still-famous cases, some that have never been solved, including the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Boston Strangler and JonBenet Ramsey. Satisfyingly sprawling and tremendously entertaining, Popular Crime is a professed amateur’s powerful examination of the incredible impact crime stories have on our society, culture and history.
Pretty good. Although James said Michael Jackson was not one of the 100 most famous people in the world and this is simply an insane statement and makes me question the rest of the book, I'm not kidding.
At times fascinating, but often mired down in the author's own fascination of his catalogue system of the crimes. Some cases are breezed through in one scant paragraph,and others go on for ever. Enough of your thoughts on Lizzie Borden. Big yawn. Still, the historical march is a useful tool.
Simply one of the worst books I have ever read. The author lacks self awareness and comes across as a self aggrandizing blow-hard. The book's flow is choppy and inconsistent, and reads more like a review of crime books that he's read.