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Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping and the Framing of Richard Hauptmann (HBO movie tie-in) Paperback – September 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1ST edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140258124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140258127
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,116,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"At a trial events are often seen in a distorted perspective. A violent event has taken place, and we work backwards from it, considering primarily the evidence bearing on that event. If we work forwards in a natural sequence, from a natural starting point, this evidence may wear a very different appearance." These words from mystery writer Julian Symons are the inspiration for this evenhanded, chronological approach to the paired stories of Charles Lindbergh, whose child was kidnapped and murdered in 1932, and Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was tried, convicted, and executed for the crime. In a quietly affecting style, Ludovic Kennedy acquaints us with the characters of Lindbergh and Hauptmann in the years before their fates intertwined. Then he outlines the chain of events that led to this textbook case of how to frame an innocent person for a crime. Kennedy wisely sidesteps the vexing question of who did kill the Lindbergh baby to focus on the unforgettable story of the kind and hardworking German carpenter who became a scapegoat for a country's guilt.

Note: this book was first published in 1985 as The Airman and the Carpenter, and has a new (1996) introduction by the author.


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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "lisadiva" on May 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
As an avid fan of true crime, this book was recommended to me by my mother who told me to read "the original true crime book" (originally published as "The Airman and the Carpenter"). She was right! This book was terribly disturbing and really rocked my faith in the American legal system. I had heard stories about the Lindbergh kidnapping and how Hauptmann was NOT the kidnapper, but hearing those tales and reading the book and seeing everything in black and white are two very different things. The facts are astounding . . . people (including the "heroic" Charles Lindbergh) told outright lies and railroaded Hauptmann. His own lawyer basically said Haputmann was guilty and deserved the electric chair . . . NJ Chief of Police Schwarzkopf admitted that he would "do anything" for Lindbergh, including lie! It is a terrible shame how the media and the public crucified this man; he never had a chance. Everyone assumed his guilt from the beginning, and after actually reading fact after fact after fact that was blatantly ignored during the trial . . . it is disturbing and shocking. So much for "innocent until proven guilty" . . . in Hauptmann's case, everyone around him searched for clues that would make him look guilty, and if that meant fabricating evidence against him, then so be it. This book shows the justice system, the media, and the American public in general at its worst. I found myself becoming more and more angry and incensed as I turned each page, as people lied under oath, fabricated evidence, made up stories, and ignored evidence that would have cleared Hauptmann. I felt terrible for him, his wife, and child.Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Chana Rosenfeld on April 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of two books that served to convince me that Hauptmann was in fact innocent. I am delighted to see it is back in print, and with a new forward too!
Richard Hauptmann MUST be exonerated. What a shame it could not be done before his wife passed on.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Williams VINE VOICE on December 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books of its kind in the world. The author does a wonderful job of stitching it together. This goes beyond a page-turner: this book will take over your life. If you are at all interested in the tradition of mock trials fronting mock justice, this is one of the most ridiculous examples to ever hit the American big top.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on March 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping and the Framing of Richard Hauptmann, Ludovic Kennedy

The author was in New York in September 1981 and saw a TV show with Anna Hauptmann; after half a century she passionately declared her husband Richard was innocent of the crime. This impressed him enough to pick this subject for his next book. Other books were on miscarriages of justice. Kennedy is against the death penalty (but for euthanasia!?). He used the recently opened case archives in Trenton for this book. The 'Introduction' tells the reader what to expect from this very readable book.

Part One is a short biography of Charles Lindbergh. [It does not tell you that his Congressman father opposed the private banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve System.] Lindbergh's love of practical jokes suggests a flawed personality. Part Two tells of Richard Hauptmann. In the war he learned to do whatever it took to survive. Lawlessness increased after the war. Hauptmann burgled and robbed and was caught and sentenced. His adventures showed quick-witted daring. Hauptmann reported for work at 8 am, March 1, 1932. After work 5 pm he went home, then picked up his wife around 8 pm (p.80). Part Three explains what happened after the baby was kidnapped. Two sets of footprints were found leading from the ladder. The Lindberghs decided to stay over on Tuesday morning, so the kidnappers were either very lucky or had inside knowledge. After a ransom note arrived, $50,000 was given to a man in a Bronx cemetery. Then the body was found near the home. Part Four tells of the continuing investigation, and Hauptmann's life and friends. The Lindberghs lived as happily as possible. One of the ransom money bills led to the capture of Hauptmann.
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By Tony Lesce on January 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kennedy's "Crime of the Century" is almost as fascinating as a previous book, "Ten Rillington Place." Both examine cases in which the wrong person was executed for murder. The current book deals with the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping, and shows how "confirmation bias" can lead investigators down the wrong path, ending up in an unjust prosecution and a faulty verdict that sent Richard Hauptman to the electric chair. However, it was jarring to read kennedy's description of Hauptman's car as dark blue on one page and green on the following page.
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