In 1836, the murder of young New York City prostitute Helen Jewett and the ensuing trial of her lover captivated the nation. Jewett (her real name was Dorcas Doyen; Jewett used many pseudonyms during her short life) was an archetypal 1830s model of fallen virtue. A bright, literate girl who worked as a servant for a respected Maine family, Jewett became "disgraced," losing her virginity outside of wedlock, and eventually taking up work as a prostitute in bustling New York City. One of her clients, Richard Robinson, was a young clerk of uncommon literary talent. The two exchanged a long series of letters, often loving and careful, then as quickly as a summer storm, they turned violent and angry. Early on the morning of April 10, 1836, Robinson stabbed Jewett to death in her brothel room and set fire to her bed. Robinson was eventually acquitted of the crime despite an overwhelming amount of evidence that both placed him at the scene and his hand on the murder weapon. The decision was universally reviled, and Robinson became an outcast who eventually exiled himself to Texas.
Cohen ably places this rather ordinary crime within the context of 19th-century urban life and the development of a fledgling tabloid journalism, showing just how people throughout America came to be shocked by a crime that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. The Murder of Helen Jewett is as much about mores and customs as it is about a lost soul. --Tjames Madison --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Massive publicity surrounded the arrest of a young clerk named Richard Robinson for murdering prostitute Helen Jewett with a hatchet in New York City in 1836. The 20 reporters and approximately 6000 spectators who attended the trial made it the most infamous case of its day and made celebrities of its attorneys and witnesses. Despite overwhelming evidence, Robinson was acquitted, but the story as presented here isn't so much a 19th-century potboiler as an examination of New York City's thriving illicit sex trade and the fascination it inspired. Cohen (The American Promise) examines the case with zeal and skill. Details of life in 1830s New York City?a time when it was surpassing Boston and Philadelphia as the country's preeminent metropolis?are involving. And Cohen's depiction of gender inequality in Jacksonian America adds to her stellar achievement. Photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
It is well-written, scholarly without being boring or dry, and thoroughly objective without being judgmental. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Runner Girl
It's ok. I was a little disappointed after having read all the positive reviews. It's a good book if you like books that wander off topic, it's not that great if you prefer books... Read morePublished 8 months ago by E. Nelson
Many have complained about the wordiness of this book, but I truly appreciate every detail the author provides. I loved reading this book and likely will read it again.Published 19 months ago by K. Havens
Can't review the content as I have not yet read it. But was recommended to me by a highly respected colleague and friend who for me is the "Bible" on NYC and NYPD history.Published 24 months ago by Joseph G.
I purchased this book for my daughter attending college and the quick turnaround to receive the item was fantastic. The book arrived in perfect condition.Published on February 16, 2013 by G-Unit
The book was in very good condition. Once I removed the crinkly library plastic type covering over the jacket it was excellent.Published on February 1, 2013 by Brandy
The story doesn't move as fast as some might like but it is fact laden and heavily foot noted. A good book to read to sleep by.Published on January 21, 2013 by A. J. Tothacer
Intriguing story about an everyday woman who was considered not worthy to be mentioned because of her occupation. But her name is infamous because of this read.Published on January 13, 2013 by JACQUELINE