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The Murder of the Century Audiobook

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars

In Long Island, a farmer found a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discovered a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumbled upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime were turning up all over New York, but the police were baffled: There were no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most perplexing murder.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Paul Collins tells the story of the brutal, bloody murder of William Guldensuppe committed by his girlfriend and her lover. Narrator William Dufris gives a delightfully varied and nuanced performance. The book features the voices of a diverse cast of late-19th century New York characters, from Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst to a duck farmer in Woodside to employees of the Murray Hill bathhouse. Together, the characters tell the story of a gruesome crime that fueled a sensationalistic media juggernaut from the moment a group of young boys found a man's mutilated torso floating in the East River in New York City on a summer day in 1897. In Dufris' inventive performance, he expertly adopts the voice of the chillingly blasé murderers; then turns on a dime to describe, in a voice filled with wonder, the new forensic science that went into identifying the body. Dufris engages the listener by sounding as fascinated by the story as the author himself is.

It is vital that Dufris get the performances just right, since Collins has distinguished his book from other histories of the crime by telling the story of the investigation and trial largely through the voices of the people who were actually there. Collins carefully reconstructs their quotes into an intensely detailed narrative, and Dufris individualizes the voice of each witness, including the murder defendants themselves. Especially effective is his portrayal of one of the main defense attorneys in the story, William Howe, whom Dufris imbues with a bold, brash voice that enlivens the "Big Bill" persona that Collins describes. But Dufris is just as adept at capturing the macabre character of the women who, obsessed with the case, filled the sweltering courtroom gallery day after day to show their support for the dashing murder defendant, Martin Thorn. —Maggie Frank

Publisher's Summary

In Long Island, a farmer found a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discovered a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumbled upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime were turning up all over New York, but the police were baffled: There were no witnesses, no motives, no suspects.

The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most perplexing murder. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Re-creations of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell's Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio - an anxious cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor - all raced to solve the crime. What emerged was a sensational love triangle and an even more sensational trial: an unprecedented capital case hinging on circumstantial evidence around a victim that the police couldn't identify with certainty - and that the defense claimed wasn't even dead.

The Murder of the Century is a rollicking tale - a rich evocation of America during the Gilded Age and a colorful re-creation of the tabloid wars that have dominated media to this day.

©2011 Paul Collins (P)2011 AudioGo

What the Critics Say

“Wonderfully rich in period detail, salacious facts about the case and infectious wonder at the chutzpah and inventiveness displayed by Pulitzer’s and Hearst’s minions. Both a gripping true-crime narrative and an astonishing portrait of fin de siecle yellow journalism.” (Kirkus Reviews)

"A dismembered corpse and rival newspapers squabbling for headlines fuel Collins’s intriguing look at the birth of 'yellow journalism' in late 19th-century New York. [A]n in-depth account of the exponential growth of lurid news and the public’s (continuing) insatiable appetite for it." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (1216 )
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3.8 (1016 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer Hillsboro, Oregon 03-01-14
    Amazon Customer Hillsboro, Oregon 03-01-14

    I like books on history. Especially Post Civil War through WW2. I like dog stories and travel adventure books.

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    "Could not stop listening"
    What did you love best about The Murder of the Century?

    A great story and history of the beginning of the twentieth century. The story is told in a way that keeps you engaged. I did not want the story to end.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony Youngblood Nashville, TN 02-27-14
    Tony Youngblood Nashville, TN 02-27-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Great book, great performance, terrible editing"

    This was a wonderful book, and William Dufris is a very engaging narrator with excellent character voices. The problem is the editing. For example, most chapters begin without a sufficient pause from the previous chapter. The editor does not leave enough room for the listener to reflect on what was just said. This also leads me to wonder if the quality control is up to snuff, although this is hard to discern without reading along.

    Pacing is the editor's art, and this editor nearly ruined a first-rate book read by a first-rate narrator. It's a shame I have to give the performance 2 stars since the narrator deserves 5. But until Audible makes production a separate star rating, this is what I must do.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Humphreys Montana, USA 11-24-13
    Martha Humphreys Montana, USA 11-24-13 Member Since 2014

    coachwrite

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    "Historical details will entertain modern CSI fans"

    A little dry, yet still entertaining with the attention to details of the period. The origins of yellow journalism fascinate as we seem to have returned to News as Entertainment rather than information. As the french say:..."the more things change, the more they remain the same."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mim 10-25-13
    Mim 10-25-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't get enough!"

    This is history but not the kind I learned in school. A murder, gruesome but not more so than others of the day, became a source of competition between the newspapers of Joseph Pulitzer and Randolph Hearst. The book is filled with juicy details and we are filled in on the stories of all players. Excellent. I hope more of Collins' books make it here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 10-15-13
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    70
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    "Interesting Read"
    Would you listen to The Murder of the Century again? Why?

    I might read this book again because of the historical aspects. Learned a lot about the newspaper industry and life in the late 1800's in the U.S.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The historical tie-in.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The reader had a rather uninteresting delivery; I thought he was bored or sleepy.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    The rise to prominence of Pulitzer and Hearst and the rivalry between them.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter United States 09-20-13
    Peter United States 09-20-13 Member Since 2012

    Professional who loves a good book. Prefer non fiction-but will take on good fiction.

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    "A murder long Ago not forgotten"
    What did you love best about The Murder of the Century?

    All the details and backgound in a relatively quick read


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    How time has changed things but things are pretty much the same


    Have you listened to any of William Dufris’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Did a great job


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The things the media did not report and the things they did


    Any additional comments?

    I like how they followed the lifes of the people after the trial

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis United States 09-17-13
    Dennis United States 09-17-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Surprisingly good !"

    I wanted to try this book but really didn't think it would hold my attention and even wondered if I would finish it. But once I started to listen it had me, it was surprisingly good. I recommend this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 09-15-13
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 09-15-13 Member Since 2013

    I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.

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    "I'm gullible for cheap reads"

    I bought this because it was the daily deal. Stupid.
    I read the reviews and thought it sounded interesting. The other reviews suggested the focus was on the newspapers and not the trial. I don't think focus is a fair term for this book. Sometimes we were told about the newspapers, sometimes we were told about the trial, sometimes we were told about the events surrounding the discovery of the murder, but I never felt like there was any story here. Everything in the book sounded disjointed and random.

    I never did "get into" this book, though I just about finished it. In theory I would enjoy the story. I would seriously be interested in hearing about newspaper rivalry, but apparently I didn't care about the little bits of newspaper history tacked on to the edges of a series of bits of information and misinformation about the trial.

    And don't get me started on the narrator. Where did he come up with these accents? so annoying. ugh.

    If you like to read about gore and unpleasantness, and if you like to be overwhelmed with all the misleading information that was available at the time, in chronological order instead of sorted in any way by the truth, then maybe you will like this book.
    But probably not.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christa Decatur, Georgia, United States 09-08-13
    Christa Decatur, Georgia, United States 09-08-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Hearst, Pulitzer and the Headless Body Trial"

    Sometimes it is good to be reminded there really never were any good old days, that crime is not worse now, and the way the press covers it is not a whit more irresponsible or sensationalized than it used to be.
    This in-depth, well-researched book provides a glimpse into New York City's past, and both the murder case and the newspaper rivalry were fascinating subjects.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BarelyAudible Paris, TX 09-06-13
    BarelyAudible Paris, TX 09-06-13 Member Since 2014

    Texas

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "No lines between Press and Police"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Interesting story of a real murder at the turn of the century. Shows how the newspapers of the day were given direct access to information, and sometimes impacted the case.Good book - but I have one big criticism. The narrator has an odd way of swallowing some of his constants, particularly "f" and "th" sounds. I don't know if this is an intentional technique - but after a while it was distracting.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Paul Collins? Why or why not?

    Sure


    How could the performance have been better?

    I don't like the way the narrator speaks. He had an odd way of "swallowing" his "f"'s and "th" sounds.Stop trying do hard to sound professional. It would have been a more relaxed read if the narrator would just speak naturally - and less like a performance.


    Was The Murder of the Century worth the listening time?

    yes


    Any additional comments?

    I wish we would have heard more about how the Police worked at the time, and less about how the Press worked.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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