Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
In 1996, FBI profiler John Douglas, (the inspiration for Thomas Harris' Agent Jack Crawford of "The Silence of the Lambs" (1988)) wrote a book with Mark Olshaker called "Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit." Douglas had profiled, and hunted, serial killers including Arthur Shawcross, who killed 13 people and Robert Hansen, an Alaska hunter who made his own real life version of Richard Connell's 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game", taking women hostage, raping them, letting them go, and hunting them down in the wilderness.
Douglas is able, with great difficulty, to understand these psychopaths, but that work almost killed him. Tony Ciaglia, "The Serial Killer Whisperer" has Douglas' ability to communicate with the same psychopaths, but without the moral constraints and judgments that Douglas has. Ciaglia survived a traumatic brain injury, and gained the ability - and desire - to explore what creates and sustains these killers. Ciaglia is not, by any measure, a psychopath - but he does not have the filter that causes almost everyone to recoil in horror from these individuals. Ciaglia's family supports his 'hobby', and he has helped victims families. His story is much more fascinating than any of the killers in the book.
I've heard the phrase "the banality of evil" for years, but I didn't quite understand what it meant until I listened to "The Serial Killer Whisperer: How One Man's Tragedy Helped Unlock the Deadliest Secrets of the World's Most Terrifying Killers" (2012). Hannah Arendt wrote a book called "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" (1963). Earley's book gives a picture of individual psychopaths while Arendt deals with the political conditions that created a whole sociopathic society, Nazi Germany. What fascinated me about both books is that, after pushing through the sheer horror of individual killers or an entire society of killers, just how pathetic and repetitive the people who do these things really are. It's almost as if the lack of conscious causes no sense of self, leaving the psychopath to create himself only in relation to how he controls others.
The book is more graphic than Ann Rule's books - it contains numerous excerpts from serial killers' letters recalling the details of their crimes. I liked the narrator's voice, but the audio could have used an edit - I kept hearing distracting intakes of breath.
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My friends and I, playing cops and robbers during first grade recess, always solemnized each capture by administering the Miranda Warning perfectly. No, we weren't living in a challenging neighborhood - Jack Webb's Dragnet and Adam 12 were early evening rerun staples out local ABC affiliate.
20 years later, in law school, Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, its constitutional basis, and its numerous exceptions, took weeks of my criminal law class. I did wonder who Ernesto Miranda was; whether he had actually committed the crime he was convicted of; how his case ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court; and what ended up happening to him. This book answers those questions, and more, about Miranda and other key criminal cases.
Michael S. Lief and H. Mitchell Caldwell provide a careful historical and cultural framework for these cases, and detailed personal histories of both the accused and the victims. Chapter 1, which deals with lynching in the south, is especially chilling.
These are the trials that are in the book, in the order that they are in (thanks Google Books for the table of contents), and I'm including the Audible concordance for anyone who wants to go to a specific case:
Ch 1 (Audible 1-2). When Mob Rule Trumps the Rule of Law. The unfortunate case of a man lynched in 1906, after the US Supreme Court agreed to review his capital conviction for rape establishes that the state has an obligation to protect prisoners in its custody.
Ch 2 (Audible 1-4). When the Constable Blunders. In 1956, evidence becomes inadmissible because it is obtained illegally and it is the "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" - even if the evidence is porn.
Ch 3 (Audible 1-6). Rules of Engagement. An (overly) sympathetic look at Randy Weaver and Ruby Ridge in 1992. Regardless, Gerry Spence's tactics were legendary (he presented no defense) and his hours long closing argument was compelling.
Ch 4 (Audible 2-3). Defending the Despised. Future president John Adams defends the British soldiers accused of killing American colonists in the Boston Massacre.
Ch 5 (Audible 2-5). You Have the Right to Remain Silent. The Miranda decision.
Ch 6 (Audible 2-7). The Black Doctor and the White Mob. Clarence Darrow successfully defends a Black family of professionals on trial for a 1925 killing in Detroit when a blue collar White mob attacked after the family moved into the neighborhood.
Ch 7 (Audible 3-3). The Trial of the (Nineteenth) Century. Congressman Daniel Sickles uses the temporary insanity defense after killing Phillip Barton Key, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, in 1859. Scandal knows no century.
Ch 8 (Audible 3-5). Genius, Scoundrel, Traitor. Former Vice President Aaron Burr's trial for the one crime listed in the U.S. Constitution, treason. Good history of Burr, trial a bit boring.
There were three narrators on this Audible, and that mostly worked - a few rough spots, but they weren't jarring enough so that I was distracted from the book.
This is under the Audible category "Mysteries and Thrillers - True Crime" but it's misplaced. It belongs in History.
When I finished this, I went looking for the first two books in the Closing Argument Chronicles - "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury" (2000) (famous trials) and "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down" (civil rights) (2006). They aren't on Audible, darn it.
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