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Reversal of Fortune : Inside the Von Bulow Case Hardcover – April 12, 1986


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (April 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394539036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394539034
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Convicted of trying to kill his wealthy wife Martha (Sunny), Claus von Bulow hired the author, a Harvard law professor, to spearhead his appeal for a new trial in Rhode Island, scene of the alleged crime. Dershowitz's detailed coverage includes his reactions to the personalities connected to events that the media have sensationalized since the accused was arrested and first tried in 1982. The author theorizes that his client's stepchildren and maid, abetted by their lawyer, could have framed von Bulow. In equally provocative accounts, he speculates on Sunny's possible drug habits and those of her son Alexander as well. What will strongly impress readers is Dershowitz's observation on the importance of money to a successful defense, although he also writes that people without the funds available to the rich are equally entitled to the best legal services. He notes that he believes in his client's innocence, but adds that even if von Bulow is guilty the question is irrelevant since his acquittal in 1985. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to Penthouse; BOMC alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In 1982, Claus von Bulow was convicted of twice trying to murder his rich, socialite wife, Sunny, but a retrial last year exonerated him. Did von Bulow do it or not? Unlike William Wright, author of The Von Bulow Affair ( LJ 4/1/83), Dershowitz, well-known Harvard law professor and legal brains behind the second trial defense, has little doubt: "Over time I became convinced that von Bulow was probably innocent. Eventually I became nearly certain." Happily, Dershowitz avoids gossipy recapitulation of the case's many titillating revelations. Rather, he provides an illuminating first-person account of the von Bulow defense strategy and, more broadly, the appellate process in action. Certain to be controversial and in demand, Reversal of Fortune is a first-rate book that belongs in most general library collections. Kenneth F. Kister, Pinellas Park P.L., Fla.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ is a Brooklyn native who has been called 'the nation's most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer' and one of its 'most distinguished defenders of individual rights,' 'the best-known criminal lawyer in the world,' 'the top lawyer of last resort,' and 'America's most public Jewish defender.' He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Dershowitz, a graduate of Brooklyn College and Yale Law School, joined the Harvard Law School faculty at age 25 after clerking for Judge David Bazelon and Justice Arthur Goldberg. While he is known for defending clients such as Anatoly Sharansky, Claus von B'low, O.J. Simpson, Michael Milken and Mike Tyson, he continues to represent numerous indigent defendants and takes half of his cases pro bono. Dershowitz is the author of 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including 6 bestsellers. His writing has been praised by Truman Capote, Saul Bellow, David Mamet, William Styron, Aharon Appelfeld, A.B. Yehoshua and Elie Wiesel. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide, in numerous languages, and more than a million people have heard him lecture around the world. His most recent nonfiction titles are The Case For Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can be Resolved (August 2005, Wiley); Rights From Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights (November 2004, Basic Books), The Case for Israel (September 2003, Wiley), America Declares Independence, Why Terrorism Works, Shouting Fire, Letters to a Young Lawyer, Supreme Injustice, and The Genesis of Justice. His novels include The Advocate's Devil and Just Revenge. Dershowitz is also the author of The Vanishing American Jew, The Abuse Excuse, Reasonable Doubts, Chutzpah (a #1 bestseller), Reversal of Fortune (which was made into an Academy Award-winning film), Sexual McCarthyism and The Best Defense.

Customer Reviews

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If one is still interested in this old case, this book should be read.
"zwerver"
This is a very good not only with respect to the facts of the case but especially in terms of legal analysis.
Ludy
PS....to this day August 31st 2003, Sunny von Bülow still lies in a coma.
Heather Negahdar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Stamper VINE VOICE on March 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Those who remember the Von Bulow trial will remember the strong arguments for and against his guilt, but even if you have never heard of him, you should read this book. Dershowitz lays out the case from beginng to end. Its best asset is a clear and concise presentation that tells the story well without wasting words. As we learn the story we are taught about legal procedures and the strategy lawyers use to win cases. Dershowitz is very realistic about the law and is very honest about the system. The book was an entertaining education.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Heather Negahdar on August 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
A true to life story involving the Rhode Island couple Martha "Sunny" von Bülow and her husband Claus von Bülow whowas accused of injecting her with insulin, sending her straight into a coma. We were made to understand that Claus did this so that he could marry his mistress Alexandra Isles; a soap opera actress.
But in this worth while reading book by Alan M. Dershowitz, Claus final attorney, new evidence is introduced which is quite surprising as this case's conclusion take on a different twist. Most of the things that were hidden from the jury and the state are now brought to light; mouths that were clamped shut are opened now, and people who did not have a thing to do or say in the first trial are coming out of the woodwork.
Reversal of Fortune is filled with photographs which will enlighten you as to who is who in this family and those who helped with the case.
This book is a must for those who like true crime; as it promises to be very entertaining and makes for interesting reading.
PS....to this day August 31st 2003, Sunny von Bülow still lies in a coma.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book rates highly for two reasons. One is that it presents the Von Bulow case, from the first trial to the appellate process to the not guilty verdict with an excitingly clear point of view. Dershowitz makes no attempt to hide his own awe and sometimes disdain of the life of the Newport rich. This first hand view is as honest a look at the case as it is the Rhode Island justice system. This is the second reason. I am neither from the US nor a lawyer and I was never lost for a minute. Dershowitz must be a treat to his students, as he is to his readers who only know about the Von Bulow trials from what they saw on television. His style of writing is simple and explanatory without being heavy-handed. All the excitement about the entire case is brought to vivid life and what's more, he is in the almost unique position to know, and reveal, incidents that were unable to be released to the public during the second trial. Amazing incidents are recounted with simpilcity that do not detract from their fantastic nature. Often, I wondered if I was reading a piece of fiction. But the author never lets you think that for long. His own frustrations, caution, humour, tensions and thrills are all felt by the reader as if he were a close observer. Despite his brutally honest tone, he makes a human being of Claus von Bulow, almost a likeable man, dreadfully afraid for his life and not his reputation. Von Bulow's attitude, actions and demenaour not only wins over Dershowitz, but the reader as well. His vulnerablity is treated with courtesy by Dershowitz, whose own personality is revealed without large doses of ego. He never forgets to thank his assistants (some of which are his own students) for their contributions.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "zwerver" on January 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Before more spectacular criminal trials, such as that of OJ Simpson, captured the nation's emotions, the von Bulow case was the criminal case on which more conflicting opinions were launched than on even really important matters of national interest. Dershowitz has his own opinions obviously (doesn't he always?), but here he is remarkably evenhanded, even though he is, was and remains the appellate advocate in the von Bulow case.
His narrative of the events, personalities and relationships in the case is very illuminating and relevant. If one is still interested in this old case, this book should be read. If one has strong opinions on the case, this book must be read.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth L. Hall Jr. on August 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
One of the best written, most interesting books I have ever read. So different from the watered down-hollywoodized movie version. 5 Stars for Mr. Dershowitz. No matter what your view towards this case, it is worth reading.
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By Ludy on June 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a very good not only with respect to the facts of the case but especially in terms of legal analysis.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book used to give to my library to replace a copy I borrowed and lost. I've never lost a library book, but did with this one, and didn't want to spend $20 to replace an old book. Amazon offed a used copy in excellent condition for under a dollar! It was shipped quickly and packed very well. Our librarian was happy to take this book in exchange.

The Bulow case is a great puzzle to me. First, he's not a 'von', Klaus put on the von to impress the hicks. Back in Copenhagen he was just Bulow. Bulow brought a lot of suspicion on himself by his behavior. The family's private 'investigations' damaged their own case. Dershowitz did a great job overturning Bulow's conviction, so he was an ace defense attorney. But, I don't think it's possible for him to write an unbiased account of his own role in a difficult case. Too self serving for me. It is still is a great case, and still needs a better explanation of what was going on in that family. That said, this is the best book on the case that I've seen to date.
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