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Life: The Most Notorious Crimes in American History: Fifty Fascinating Cases from the Files - in Pictures (Life (Life Books)) Hardcover – November 6, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Life (Life Books)
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Life (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933821086
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933821085
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.6 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you are close to or north of 50 years old you likely grew up leafing through the copies of Life and Look magazine that your parents subscribed to. They were large format magazines that relied more on pictures than text to make their points, but the text was still of good to high quality. Their vast library of photographs have been mined for several very nice books and special commemorative issues on various topics such as the Space Race, the Kennedy Assassination, and the war in Vietnam.

This book pulls out photographs published in life on notorious crimes in American history. Obviously, some of the photographs of the Lincoln assassination and the Lizzie Borden murders involve historical photos, but the crimes after the mid-20th Century are from Life's libraries. There are several dozen crimes collected here and they are grouped under politics, passion, profit, and pointless mayhem.

It starts off with the assassination of Lincoln, JFK, the Rosenberg trial and executions, Mississippi Burning, the murders of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, Watergate, Patty Hearst, the shooting of Ronald Reagan, the Oklahoma City bombing and others.

The Passion section has a number of strange cases, many of which are not famous anymore. But it does cover Pamela Smart, Amy Fisher, OJ, and Laci Peterson.

The Profit section covers Sacco & Vanzetti, various Mob related stories, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and murder, the story behind Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood", and Enron.

Pointless Mayhem covers Lizzie Borden, Leopold and Loeb, Sam Sheppard, Psycho, The Boston Strangler, Richard Speck, Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, the Beltway Snipers, the murder of John Lennon, and others.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book rates a solid five stars with me. The book is divided into four parts: crimes involving 1. "Politics" such as political assassinations (the Kennedys, Martin Luther King), the Rosenbergs, and the civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi. 2. "Passion" such as Pamela Smart case, the O.J. Simpson case, and the shooting of Stanford White. 3. "Profit" such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, the Clutter family murders in Kansas, and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. 4. "Pointless Mayhem" such as Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, Leopold and Loeb, Richard Speck, Charles Manson, and several others. Each case covers two to four pages in length with several photographs many in color. I would have included Austin, Texas, sniper Charles Whitman, the kidnapping and murder of Bobby Greenlease by Carl Hall and Bonnie Heady, and the murders of the Dartmouth professors by Robert Tulloch and James Parker, but I highly recommend this book. Although most of us have no desire to be criminals it is still fascinating to read about the motives of those who take part in infamous activities.
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Format: Hardcover
From the assassination of Abraham Lincoln , John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., to the kidnaping of Patty Hearst and the Lindbergh Baby, to the notorious Charles Manson family, to the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, "The Most Notorious Crimes In American History" is an illustrated history of famous and infamous American crimes and criminals, both historic and contemporary. The murders of Laci Peterson and John Lennon, the unsolved mystery of the Black Dahlia Murder, the nation chilling Oklahoma City Bombing, all these and so many more are showcased and highlighted in a unique and highly recommended volume of American criminal history.
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Format: Hardcover
Review: A very nice piece of "fluff" reading. Each of the crimes are discussed in one to four pages of simple prose and liberal photos. Only the basic facts of the crimes are presented, so if you are looking for hard-hitting, in-depth coverage, you'd best pass this one by. It's a decent coffee table book, as it allows the reader to only read a bit at a time.

Grade: A-
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Format: Hardcover
This book seems aimed for those too young to remember many of the crimes here. For them the many photographs from Life Magazine will be worthwhile. But those of us who read the text will find only the briefest descriptions carefully avoiding controversy in recent cases. O.J. Simpson for one really needed more info on the role of the police and how that led to his acquital.

A clear example of inadequacy is the Chester Gillette case, later made into the movie, A Place in the Sun. From the text here, you could be excused for thinking Elizabeth Taylor played the murder victim. She did not--Shelley Winters did. If Liz, playing the woman Montgomery Clift really loved, had a real-life counterpart, it isn't mentioned here.

I can understand the limitations of space but do have to wonder that Jesse James, John Dillinger and the other famous robbers of their time are absent, along with many other of my favorite crimes. I guess I wanted a bigger and more thorough book than this one.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. It covered a wide range of stories dating way back in history to very recent. In all it talks about over 50 different crimes. It breaks them down into 4 different categories: 1) Politics 2) Passion 3) Profit and 4) Pointless Mayhem. A couple of examples from each are 1) Lincoln assassination and Oklahoma City bombing, 2) Shooting of Stanford White and The murder of Laci Peterson, 3) Lindbergh kidnapping and Enron, 4) Murder of Lizzie Borden's parents and The Beltway snipers. All stories include some pictures or drawings of the people, crime, or the trial.
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