I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This book centered on solving a crime. Part of a body washed up on shore, and the police had to figure out the victim's identity and nab the perp. The competition among the NY newspapers at this time was intense, and Pulitzer and Hearst tried to out-sensationalize each other's papers.
This sounds really interesting, right? But it wasn't. The investigation itself wasn't exciting, and the people involved were not complex or fascinating.
The criminals in this book were German immigrants, so an important factor in the performance was the reader's ability to nail a German accent. He was way off. He improved as he went along, but it was never consistent or convincing.
With so many good books out there, I wouldn't opt for this one.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
I am not much of a True Crime aficionado, but I picked up this book when it went on sale because this murder took place right just as the US prepared to leap into the 20th century and I am very interested in that period of history. As the country stood on the cusp of great change, there was hardly a place to better document the challenges of the age than New York City. In telling the story of this one gruesome murder, Paul Collins is occasionally plodding and repetitive, but he does do a great job of detailing this period of yellow journalism, some of the societal impact of the huge wave of immigration that was taking place, and the roots of modern forensic science (and some of the pseudo science that still reigned in that day). William Dufris is not my favorite narrator, but his Ed Murrow style works pretty well with this book. The details of the murder and suspected murderers are not that engaging (kind of made me wish I could read it the way Hearst would have presented it instead), but this is a good snapshot of turn-of-the-century life (and death).
the newspaper angle and how tabloids got started
engaging and good performance
long but excellent
iloved the deatails of police work in late 18s00
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
I actually enjoyed this book after a spate of recent true crime books which were absolutely awful. Even veteran crime writer Ann Rule has lost her "mojo" after decades of dominating this genre. In this book you get good writing, research and narration - the must-have "triple crown" in audiobooks. Well worth the price of admission.
The topic seemed very interesting, however the execution was slow. I couldn't get through the whole book no matter how hard I tried. It just never got to the point. It was all about trying badly to set the atmosphere. I am amazed at reading other people's description on what a 'fast read' and how exciting it was. I am not sure they listened to the book before they wrote the review.
Even after listening, I'm not sure that the second thread-line of story about the tabloids was really that important. In the description, we (or at least I) are lead to believe that this story shaped the tabloids we know today. The connect, while presented to a be a true and valid one, isn't as strong as I had originally thought. The story focused more on the actual murder with the tabloids (it felt) as an aside.In addition, I really thought that the book dragged about 3/4 of the way through, and I was just grinding it out to get the the END! I think the author could've abbreviated some of the details to keep things moving. That being said, it's a very good book and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it in my car. I would recommend it; just don't expect a fast-paced murder mystery.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
True crime is really quite a fun genre, in and of itself, but I particularly enjoy it when it adds historical context and historical significance. This was the case with the dismembered body found in New York just before the turn of the century. What followed was an investigation just as scientific method was starting to be applied to investigations and a trial that ran into incredible difficulties. More than just the investigation, arrest and trial, this is a story about the rise of "yellow journalism" and how it made several careers and created the modern journalistic style we know today. Through this tale of one-upsmanship we can see the rise of the paparazzi and the 24 hour news cycle.
So yes, I recommend this book. The murder is sensational, the characters are interesting, the impact on modern America is recognizable. Enjoy it!
The narrator was excellent. The story was fascinating.
The feeling of the time and place the writing gave. Hearing the account of how newspapers operated at the beginning of the century was engrossing. The tabloid wars was something I knew little about. New perspective now on Citizen Kane.
That I did not notice him much. He did enough when he was doing dialogue to bring characters to life but not too much.
This was not a bad book, but not a great book either. It tells the story of a fascinating murder case and of the era of yellow journalism wars. That part of the book was quite interesting although I do feel that there was miscarriage of justice as Augusta Nack should have been executed also.
The most interesting bits of the story are the search for the identify of the victim once various body parts come to the surface and then the trial. The running back and forth and the dirty tricks of the various reporters and the papers were fascinating, but in part went on too long and too much was made of a lot of events.
The incompetence of the prosecutor was astonishing. He went on to prosecute someone where if he had revealed all the evidence he would have lost. Also it shows the sloppy forensic work of the time and how little forensics actually played in the case, although if a full discussion of the wounds on the body had come out in court, Mrs. Nack would have been found guilty. The fact that the prosecutor cut a deal with her so he could get at least one conviction shows the low quality of courts at the time especially in a major case.
The narrator was rather a monotone, although in the part of the trial the narrator was excellent in portraying the defense attorny Howe, who was the leading defense attorney of the time. I found it hard to believe that he lost the case. However, Victorian sensibilities played a role here -- and it is noteworthy that women were excluded from the court after a discussion of how the identification was made, despite the lack of a head.
However, large sections of the books simply go on too long. The whole ending of book was dragged out to the point I stopped listening to it. The writing was on the whole a bit too wordy and an editor should have cut it down in length. There was a lot of unnecessary detail which was dragged out beyond their merit.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
I think Paul Collins needed to figure out just what kind of book he was trying to write. It wasn’t a murder mystery because the culprits were fairly obvious and brought to trial before the book was half done. It didn’t really document the beginning of Yellow Journalism, because we were told the term had been tagged before this incident occurred, and the wars between the various newspapers were already well underway. Although we hear most about the Hearst-Pulitzer rivalry, these two potentially colorful characters remained mostly flat and in the background.
What is left is a somewhat disorganized description of a grisly murder committed by very ordinary people for the most mundane of motives. The police are portrayed as inept, but can be forgiven to some degree because of the intrusion of headline greedy journalists who planted false evidence, invented false leads and “witnesses”, making it a miracle that the truth ever came out at all. I kept wishing for someone to step up and tell everyone to knock it off. In the end I came away irritated at the whole thing – sort of how I feel about tabloid reporting today. I guess I got what I asked for.