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Wasted: The Preppie Murder Paperback – July 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wolfe draws resonant lessons from the so-called "preppy murder case" in which Robert Chambers strangled Jennifer Levin in New York's Central Park in 1986 and claimed that her death was accidental. Chambers's parents, as portrayed here, continually made excuses for their teenage son's longtime drug abuse, stealing and other antisocial activities; he tried cocaine, LSD, Ecstasy and loved wild parties. Through intertwined accounts of the adolescences of Chambers and Levin we meet a banal generation of drifting youth nurtured on TV, movies and drugs. Wolfe's ( Private Practices ) reconstruction of the Chambers-Levin romance, the murder and the widely publicized trial is adroitly done, with a plethora of police procedural details. If, unfortunately, she sometimes indulges in shoddy effects--"Phyllis knew that girls sucked up to her son"--and is a touch gossipy, her depiction of a privileged, indulged milieu is at once specific and generic, and thoroughly disturbing. Photos. Literary Guild featured alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Attractive youths used to a nightlife of drugs, booze, and sex, Jennifer Levin and Robert Chambers seemed straight out of Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City ( LJ 10/1/84). But the reality was grimmer; one evening in August, 1986, Chambers brutally strangled Levin in Central Park. Wolfe offers some theories on why--drug-induced frenzy, displaced rage towards a controlling mother, and, even, perhaps, Ted Bundy-like psychopathy. Chambers himself claimed "rough sex" the cause, and his lawyers and a suprising portion of the public jumped on this blame-the-victim bandwagon. While Wolfe has not extensively interviewed the major players, she nevertheless captures the drama of the trial (Chambers eventually plea-bargained for first-degree manslaughter, with unrelated burglary charges waived), and perceptively sees the incident as part of the societal problem of ineffective parental supervision. Recommended. Literary Guild alternate.
- Judy Quinn, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (July 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595004504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595004508
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,796,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Linda Wolfe is a journalist, essayist, book critic and fiction writer. She has published ten books, many of them about famous crimes, both contemporary and historic. Her newest book, MY DAUGHTER/​MYSELF, a wrenching, highly personal account of her 38-year-old daughter's out-of-the-blue, near-fatal stroke and miraculous recovery, will be published in June 2013 by Greenpoint Press.

Wolfe's previous nonfiction books are: THE MURDER OF DR. CHAPMAN: The Legendary Trials of Lucretia Chapman and Her Husband LOVE ME TO DEATH A Journalist's Memoir of the Hunt for Her Friend's Killer; WASTED The Preppie Murder; DOUBLE LIFE The Story of Judge Sol Wachtler; THE PROFESSOR AND THE PROSTITUTE and Other True Tales of Murder and Madness; PLAYING AROUND Women and Adultery; THE COSMO REPORT Women and Sex in the Eighties; THE COOKING OF THE CARIBBEAN ISLANDS and THE LITERARY GOURMET. She has also published a novel, PRIVATE PRACTICES, several short stories and numerous articles, book and restaurant reviews, and personal essays.

A longtime Contributing Editor of New York Magazine, her articles and essays have appeared in that magazine, as well as in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Playboy, and many other publications.

She received an Edgar Award nomination for WASTED , which was a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year."

Wolfe recently stepped down from many years on the board of the National Book Critics Circle. She is presently writing and editing a books column for

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This guy looks like a Kennedy. Indeed, his mother has styled him as a Kennedy. An Irish Catholic nurse born in Ireland, she has devoted her life to climbing up the social ladder of New York society and pushing her very handsome son through the best prep schools, etc. Only one problem. Robert Chambers is a pretty boy loser, a druggie and a sociopathic sickie. He bombs out of prep school after prep school, mainly because he is caught stealing to support his cocaine habit. He just parties. That's about it. Mommie, nonetheless believes her son will turn it around and amount to something. He is irresistible to the girls. They see him as an alpha male. They think his unsavory character is sexy. Along comes Jennifer Levin, a not completely pretty, but sexy, lively girl, who just wants to have fun. She finds Robert and wants to have fun with him. Unfortunately, his idea of fun is to get wasted, and while wasted he chokes her to death, and then realizing what he has done, tries to make it look like a rape in Central Park. Then while being questioned he has a brilliancy. He claims she raped him! And in fighting back he accidentally strangled her to death.
Well. It's a sick scene. All the Studio 54 party preppies and wanna-bes think this is just the coolest scene. They now feel so important and they support Robert, one of their own. Meanwhile Mom hustles up bail and more to buy a high priced lawyer to defend her boy. We get a semi-competent judge, a not really talented ADA, and a "star of the show" defense lawyer. I'll leave it to the reader see how this sad story about the decadence of the New York-preppie scene, circa 1988, turns out.
Of course one might say that the real villain here is, if you will, Mom.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shelley D. Edwards on October 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a parent, the facts revealed in this book are truly shocking. That parents would let mere children, some not even fifteen years old, indulge in New York City's wild nightlife baffles me. And scares me. Seriously, what were these kid's parents thinking? It seemed like the public blamed the kids and I believe the parents are as much at fault as their offspring. Probably more at fault.

True Crime books are always interesting to me because of the various styles and perspectives the authors use. WASTED did not disappoint. I was a little let down by the build up to the crime, which took most of the book, while the aftermath and trial did not receive a whole lot of attention. However, Ms. Wolfe did an excellent job of bringing the two kids personalities to life and made it clear that each needed something more than they were getting at home, or from their `friends'.

Still, I would have enjoyed learning more about the trial itself and Robert's life in prison. I'd also like to know how the parents of these kids dealt with life after the murder.

If you like True Crime, I think this is a book worth reading.

Shelley Dawn, author of Sweet, Sweet Jessie and Dark Nights
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Book Fanatic TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was an enjoyable read even though by the time I finished I couldn't help but feel disgust toward Robert Chambers. The coverage of the Robert and Jennifer and the events that led up to the murder are covered pretty thoroughly and the trial gets pretty limited treatment. That's okay because the trial didn't seem that interesting and the characters certainly were.

The result of the trial was incredibly disappointing but Chambers wasn't able to stay out of trouble and if you search for him you will find he ended up back in prison and is spending most of his adult life there.

Good true crime. Recommended.
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