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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

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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 (1248 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Christa Decatur, Georgia, United States 09-08-13
    Christa Decatur, Georgia, United States 09-08-13 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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

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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
  •  
    Hiking1957 Portland, Oregon 05-26-13
    Hiking1957 Portland, Oregon 05-26-13 Member Since 2012

    Hiking1957

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    "This was interesting."
    What did you like best about The Murder of the Century? What did you like least?

    The history was what I liked best. It was a little slow moving.


    If you’ve listened to books by Paul Collins before, how does this one compare?

    I don't think that I have listened to other book by Paul Collins.


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

    It was a good performance.


    Do you think The Murder of the Century needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Not really.


    Any additional comments?

    This was interesting. It was about the murder and about the tabloid wars that this murder started. Very interesting times for sure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Philadelphia, PA, United States 05-14-13
    Walter Philadelphia, PA, United States 05-14-13 Member Since 2016
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    "An Entertaining Performance adds to the story"

    Dufris is the star of the show. His reading of Howe, the defense attorney, is amazing. This is a well writing and meticulously research account of a New York City murder and the sensationalist journalism that followed. The plot takes a lot of turns and in enganging thoughout. Once the trial is wrapped up, the book drags on for a few more chapters, and they should be skipped. This was a fun read, but it doesn't educate like most non-fiction. Paul Collins has a gift, but other still master the genre better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NeverJetHot 05-05-13
    NeverJetHot 05-05-13

    TheRestlessMouse

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    "You can almost smell the grimy old New York"

    I thought this would be presented as a whodunit, but of course it's more of a documentary, this story has been told before. Even if you have already heard the story of the murder of William Guldensuppe, AKA The Scattered Dutchman, a masterful storyteller and rich details make this one worth a listen.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CG Collingswood, New Jersey, United States 03-25-13
    CG Collingswood, New Jersey, United States 03-25-13 Member Since 2009

    glasercb

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    "Very Interesting perspective."
    What did you love best about The Murder of the Century?

    I liked the fast pace and the descriptions of the New York that was.


    If you could give The Murder of the Century a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Read all about it!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 03-10-13
    Jan 03-10-13 Member Since 2011

    Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.

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    "Fun little historical murder mystery"

    Quick easy read. Found the relationship between the newspapers, politics, the law and the crime very interesting. "Bones" and "CNN" in the age of no fingerprints and no limits to behavior of journalists selling papers. Did they convict the wrong person?

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan Honolulu, HI, United States 02-12-13
    Evan Honolulu, HI, United States 02-12-13 Member Since 2016

    Business owner , philanthropist.

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    "Fun story really got to know the people"

    Very descriptive, good mix of business and murder. I have this picture of a torso stuck in my mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Schuster Orlando, FL USA 02-11-13
    Adam Schuster Orlando, FL USA 02-11-13 Listener Since 2003
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    "A specific time gives insight into today"

    Fascinating how much of the news cycle of today draws it roots from events of the past.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    devlin Seattle, WA, United States 02-04-13
    devlin Seattle, WA, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "It wasn't worth the credit."
    Any additional comments?

    The story isn't bad overall. Its just a bad attempt at trying to be a nior murder story while just listing facts. It gets confusing and hard to follow with the monotone narrator.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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