129 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps "The Read of the Summer of 2011--and 2012!"
This is a real gem, a fun and delightful good read, of a bygone era with which the author clearly
is in love, an era when reporters collared and interrogated witnesses with or without the police, the police hustled to try to know as much as the journalists, a haircut, shave or massage could be taken way too literally, the streets were dominated by horses, immigrant...
Published on June 16, 2011 by Peter Hillman
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder sells
This is a well researched book and I can only imagine the amount of time Paul Collins spent at the libraries and talking to the librarians to find this stuff. He makes judicious use of the other newspapers of the time and even gives us some of the front pages from the time. He gives such great information on the late 1800's and the newspaper wars between Hearst and...
Published on October 23, 2011 by Andy Shuping
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129 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps "The Read of the Summer of 2011--and 2012!",
This review is from: The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars (Hardcover)This is a real gem, a fun and delightful good read, of a bygone era with which the author clearly
is in love, an era when reporters collared and interrogated witnesses with or without the police, the police hustled to try to know as much as the journalists, a haircut, shave or massage could be taken way too literally, the streets were dominated by horses, immigrant groups knew their tribal members, and among the chief entertainments were competing, screaming morning and evening newspapers, each pulling out all the stops.
Sitting atop the "yellow journalism" pile were two giants: Hearst, young and up-start, willing to apply any amount of yellow ink to sensationalize his "Journal" and out-do the others; and, Joseph Pulitzer, hardly the epitome of journalistic integrity we think of today when his eponymous awards are given. This Pulitzer, much older and venerated, seems willing to "yellow up" his "World" almost against his better instincts.
To convey a meaty sense of what these end-of-the-Gilded Era times and journalism wars were like, Collins resurrects the Guldensuppe "Scattered Dutchman" murder case--seemingly lost up to now to general readers. In fact, an internet search today of "Guldensuppe murder case" reveals primarily 114 year-old press clippings. Collins, to his immense credit, has done exhaustive primary research to draw us in to the times, the personalities, the case, the papers. What's more, his chapters are supported by substantial end notes that often also delight and inform the reader. Throughout, Collins writes with a sense of immediacy and wonder, a you-are-there style that builds as quickly as one can turn the pages.
I found this a captivating and engrossing read. Even more, permit me to suggest that one read it alongside Pete Hamill's wonderful new "Tabloid City." These two books neatly encapsulate the "birth" of modern print journalism and its seeming demise.
PS One year later--so many readers have delighted in this book, and been unable to match it in so many respects; hence, I've added "2012" to the title. Enjoy!
74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tabloid wars, murder, and some fantastic nonfiction writing,
This review is from: The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars (Hardcover)I won an ARC of The Murder of the Century from the publisher in a Goodreads giveaway and was so excited to read it because I've really been looking forward to this book. I have a serious love of good narrative nonfiction.
The Murder of the Century is a two-part story. The first aspect of the story is the grisly murder (and subsequent trial) that gripped New York City in 1897 after a man's torso was found floating near a pier by two young boys. At first, the police were baffled and had no clues as to the identity of the dead man, let a long a suspect or a motive. As other body parts and clues turned up across NYC, detectives plunged into investigating the gruesome crime and trying to find leads. The second (and perhaps more central) part of the story is the publicity circus that arose surrounding the murder and trial. Media moguls William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer seized the story and fed the growth of their newspapers (the Journal and the World, respectively) on sensational headlines following every aspect and detail of the case. Hearst even created a Murder Squad at his paper to do their own detective work, and reporters for both papers were often ahead of the real police detectives in chasing leads and finding clues.
Collins's book is a really great history of the beginnings of the tabloid wars and yellow journalism, told through the lens of the Guldenseppe murder -- the crime that really sparked the escalation of the newspaper wars and which found Pulitzer and Hearst dueling fiercely for headlines and readers. The book is extremely readable and in the style of popular history books like those written by Erik Larson and Howard Blum. It's an interesting and entertaining story, and Collins does a fantastic job with it -- the pacing is spot on and kept me engrossed and turning page after page, the writing is excellent, and the book is a perfect balance of informative and educational with lively and absorbing. Definitely recommended, especially for fans of history and/or true crime.
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Read and Interesting History,
This review is from: The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars (Hardcover)This book is a great rip-roaring summer read. I loved the suspense of the murder mystery along with the carefully researched details that made late-Victorian era New York come to life. The yellow journalism tabloid war was just icing on the cake, as it broadened my understanding of how journalism in that era reported and made the news. When I started this book, I could hardly put it down and devoured it over a three day period. I love history books such as this that also provide the suspense and excitement that I would normally expect from a fictional novel rather than an historical account.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder sells,
Where this book faltered a bit for me is that the pacing isn't always the most even in the first half of the book. He bounces around from following reporters from the World and then back to the Journal or following the trail of a detective and at times its a struggle to figure out whose who. I think part of the problem is that there are so many different players that we never get a sense of who they really are, such as Detective Carey. He's introduced early on, mentioned once or twice more...and then seemingly fades, even though he seems to have been a major person within the investigation. There are also a couple of places where he starts a story and then never finishes it. Such as the case with the experienced diver that indicated he found something, it's never revealed what he found. Maybe Collins doesn't know, but why mention it then?
All in all an interesting read on the first great murder trial of the modern time, but not one I would purchase for myself.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!,
This review is from: The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars (Kindle Edition)I am a criminal defense attorney. If you like true stories starting from facts and details of the crime, through the arrest and ultimately a murder trial, this book is for you. Great development of all the players including defendants and attorneys. I loved it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The public wants entertainment, not information",
This review is from: The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars (Kindle Edition)The quote above, by none other than William Randolph Hearst, seems to be as true today as it was when the famed newspaper publisher said it during America's late-19th century Gilded Age. Take a look at any newscast and see how much of the newscast is gobbled up by the latest celebrity scandal as opposed to real news about the economy or other hard news stories.
That's the funny thing about reading Paul Collins' The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparks the Tabloid Wars; the book is set during the late 1890s, but the subjects that come up are the same subjects we discuss and argue about today. There's immigration, abortion, capital punishment, criminal investigations, forensic science, political corruption. The list could go on and on. For a book of only a little more than 300 pages (counting the index and source notes) Collins has packed a lot on information in this book. From the title one would assume the book was about a crime and the coverage given it by New York's tabloid press. Sure, it's about those subjects, but here even the incidental information Collins includes is fascinating.
At its most basic level, the book details the discovery of dismembered body parts around New York in the summer of 1897. Eventually the body is identified (though his head was never located) and a man and woman were brought to trial in a strange love triangle. The crime sets off a war between the city's leading tabloids - Hearst's Journal and competitor Joseph Pulitzer's World newspapers. Anyone who's familiar with the comedy The Front Page or the films it spawned will be familar with the under-handed tactics newspapers used to get the scoop on other newspapers. Newspapers in gilded age New York rented out apartments across from police stations and posted lookouts to sound the alert about police activity. Reporters weren't above cutting the lines to all public telephones near a crime scene to keep competititors from calling in the story, nor were they above talking themselves in to a suspect's apartment and making off with photos or other items. Collins captures the era with a sharp focus and attention to detail that make it stand out - not only with the ways that age differs from our own, but with the ways the two ages are alike as well.
Most non-fiction books seem to flow along until the author interjects some exposition he or she thinks is needed. Collins, on the other hand, lets the narrative flow naturally, taking sidetrips away from the central murder mystery and tabloid wars for divergences into the origins of forensic investigations or the history of abortion laws that add to rather than subtract from the central story. That makes The Murder of the Century the most readable and entertaining non-fiction book I've read since The Devil in the White City. If this is the kind of books Collins will be producing, count me as those who can't wait to see what he'll come up with next.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read and informative.,
The pace is good, I read in quick and the author gave it enough juice for you to finish the book. Also, he does an epilogue and he gives an update on all the characters, anyone that read my reviews knows I am big on tidying things up at the end especially non-fiction books. I learned a lot about how powerful Newspapers used to be where many times, they made the news. Also, I never seen Citizen Kane but after reading this book, I am interested in learning more about William Randolph Hearst.
The not so good department, out of fairness, before reading this book, I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and it spoiled me, Unbroken was non- fiction but it was so fantastic and so well written that very few writers can do, what she does. So Paul Collins is a good writer but He is not in the same league as Hillenbrand, that said , I wanted more details, more descriptions, more about the characters , for example , Collins introduces a detective Carey and after a while ,nothing is mentioned about him. it world have been nice if he spend more time with the characters-making them more 3 dimensional. The author touches upon the life of the late 1800 and early 1900's but the wow factor was missing, again Hillenbrand had it ,Collins didn't . Is it fair to compare both writers in the same genre? I don't know , as I mentioned , I read one then the other, you decide.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book of 2011!!,
If you love true crime stories, I highly recommend this book. It flows smoothly like an enthralling novel but it is an actual crime tragedy in our nation's history. I'll give the author an A+ for his book--I only wish it had been longer.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy for the murder, read for the Hearst-Pulitzer war!,
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great true story of crime,
It was so neat to catch a glimpse of what life was like in NYC in 1897. This was a time before fingerprinting and forensics and careful documentation by police investigators. I was shaking my head at the way the crime scenes and investigation were conducted. So interesting! Plus, a HUGE part of this book is the rivalry between two newspapers, the Journal owned by Hearst and the World, by Pulitzer. It was amazing to read that so much of the initial investigation was conducted by these newspapers for the sole purpose of outdoing one another. The author perfectly captures how the papers relished their role in the unfolding drama. The author gives us an account of the growth of lurid news and the public's fascination for it.
I was so addicted to this book. I loved it!! The author really did his research for the book but it does not come off dry and too fact ridden. This is a non-fiction book that is both fascinating and so well written it was a joy to read. If you are ready for a real life tale that includes murder, dismemberment, adultery, contract killing, false identity, grave robbing, gambling, illicit abortion and medical malpractice, this is the book that has it all, you will not be disappointed.
It's compelling history that's also great page-turning entertainment. Five stars and a definite must read!!
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