Apparently the four previous reviewers each have a connection to either the author or the killer. I have none.
The facts of the June 1965 Big Springs bank robbery and triple murder are (unusual for such a case) not in dispute. The week after he graduated from college, Duane Pope, 22, traveled 400 miles from his home to rob a bank in Big Springs, Neb. After robbing the bank, Pope made four bank employees lie prone and he shot them in the back and neck, killing three and paralyzing the fourth. The police and FBI figured nearly all the details out even before Pope was captured, and then Pope made a detailed confession. The FBI even managed to recover evidence that Pope tossed out of his car at random places on the highway. There was incontrovertible evidence of premeditation. So there has never been any question that Pope was guilty. The author's quest, then, is to posit reasons why someone who led a life free of any kind of run-ins with authorities at any level would commit such a cold-blooded crime. (Indeed, a Leavenworth warden is quoted that Pope was a model prisoner.) The author weakens the strong descriptive record of Pope's life, crime, and victims by delving into possible reasons for the robbery and murders. He plumbs a number of possibilities, including theories from psychiatric testimony aired at Pope's trial, such as schizophrenia or schizoid behavior; and some that weren't, such as a head trauma Pope received when he was a boy. The author also raises -- wholly without foundation -- suggestions that Pope was a victim of childhood sexual abuse or suffered from autism. These last charges make the ending of the book smell like an apology for Pope's crime.Read more ›
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