"A gripping must-read tale of turbulent times." -- Dr. John Horgan, director, International Center for the Study of Terrorism, Penn State University
"A most fascinating and can't-put-down story." -- Harry Brant Chandler, media executive, scion of family that founded the Los Angeles Times
"Reads more like a novel with the suspenseful twists and turns." -- C.D. Quyn, San Francisco Book Review
"Irwin, a veteran television journalist, is an artist in prose." -- Anthony Mostrom, L.A. Weekly
"Masterfully" written. -- Publishers Weekly
From the Author
I began writing Deadly Times more than half a lifetime ago after interviewing Irving Stone, who had written one of his "biographical fiction" accounts of the life of attorney Clarence Darrow, best known for defending the thrill-killers Leopold and Loeb in 1924 and John Scopes in the "monkey trial" the following year. The book included an account -- some of it admittedly fictional -- of Darrow's defense in 1910 of J.B. McNamara, a member of the AFofL-affiliated Iron Workers Union, who was charged with bombing the Los Angeles Times, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 100 others, and his brother, J.J. McNamara, the secretary-treasurer of the union, who allegedly had ordered the bombing and more than 150 others throughout the country over the course of four years. Darrow himself would later be tried -- twice -- for attempting to bribe the jury.
Although I had worked at the Times in my youth I was unaware that it had ever been bombed, and I set out to learn more about that terrible event, which was called "The Crime of the Century" in its day and remains the deadliest crime ever to go to trial in California and the deadliest crime committed against journalists in history. As an act of terrorism it is exceeded only by the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the World Trade Center attack in 2001.
Deadly Times was begun at a time when reporters and researchers wearing gauze gloves had to pore over fragile broadsheets and files in newspaper "morgues"and ended in a day when 100-year-old court records, books, newspapers and personal correspondence could be called up in seconds on a personal computer. In recent years I was able to learn pertinent details of the intricate investigation that led to the capture of the dynamiters and fascinating information about the personal and professional lives of the bigger-than-life players in this drama.
One reviewer said that it reads like fiction. But as fiction, it would have seemed unbelievable.