The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation Kindle Edition
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“Ambitious, bold, and evocative, Schechter’s storytelling grabs the reader in a similar manner to Capote’s searing In Cold Blood.” —Publishers Weekly
“Grisly…The novelist Raymond Chandler listed it as No. 3 on his compilation of the 10 greatest crimes of the century.” —New York Times
“This fascinating tale of a charismatic and savvy madman will thrill historical true crime fans.” —Library Journal
“Schechter adds another page-turner to his stable of atmospheric, highly readable true-crime works.” —Booklist
“Harold Schechter, arguably America’s foremost historian of the macabre, has unearthed one of the most fascinating—and terrifying—horrors of the Depression era. You’ve probably never heard of the artist Robert Irwin or the beautiful model Veronica Gedeon. After reading Schechter’s visceral telling of their story, you’ll never be able to forget them.” —Douglas Perry, author of Eliot Ness: The Rise and Fall of an American Hero
“A righteously disturbing chronicle of a madman/artist and his deviant life, Schechter again produces a heavyweight. Meticulously researched and eloquently delivered, The Mad Sculptor is a wild ride into a savage crime in 1930s New York.” —Steve Miller, author of Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in America’s Loudest City
“Harold Schechter has unveiled another sensational murder with a cast of characters that might have stepped from a novel by Dostoyevsky. Schechter’s absorbing narrative will fascinate everyone with an interest in New York in the twentieth century.” —Simon Baatz, author of For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder that Shocked Chicago
“A lurid summer read…[The Mad Sculptor] is more than a mere real-life thriller; it's a gritty glimpse at American dreams descending into nightmare.” —The Times Picayune
About the Author
- ASIN : B00E3E4XMU
- Publisher : Amazon Publishing (February 18, 2014)
- Publication date : February 18, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 21446 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 370 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #108,624 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The meat of the book follows the life of Robert Irwin--the Mad Sculptor. Raised by a religiously zealous but hypocritical father and a religious and passive mother, Bob and his two brothers spend much of their time in juvenile detention. Bob has some innate artistic ability and makes his way to NYC. He gets good jobs but he cannot keep them because of his hair-trigger temper. He is also in and out of mental institutions. He becomes the favored patient of Dr. Fredric Wertham, who proposes a new diagnosis called "catathymic crisis" to describe Bob. After one hospitalization Bob meets the Gedeon family and falls in love with their daughter Ethel. She does not return his affections. Bob slowly spirals out of control with grandiose delusions of mastering the power of "visualization" and with erratic mood swings. He believes that if he can remove all of his sexual urges he will reach the height of visualization. This is easier said than done. He tries various gruesome means and finally decides that killing Ethel is the answer. Instead, he ends up killing her mother, her sister who is a model of sorts, and a male boarder. The rest of the book focuses on the manhunt for Bob, his capture, his insanity defense by Sam Leibowitz, his trial, and his incarceration.
As I said, I love this type of book. My favorite parts by far were the later sections that dealt with psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, the use of the insanity defense, and "lunacy commissions." This provided a lot of life and context to my chosen field of study. The author also highlights the state of police investigations and of sensational journalism of that time period. And there were plenty of juicy bits in all four of these murders to keep the tabloids busy. I gave this three stars because the book was uneven. My attention wandered in places. I was not interested in some of the background detail of some of the more minor characters. I know that is a hard balance to strike with this type of book. Also, the writing and sentence structure was not always clear. While Harold Schechter has written many books about serial killers and crimes, I think that there are better examples out there. It is hard to beat anything by Erik Larson, with some honorable mentions to Lyndsay Faye (The Gods of Gotham) and Catherine Bailey (The Secret Rooms).
Top reviews from other countries
It is written like a novel so that you have to keep reminding yourself that it's true. it is incredibly well researched; as well as the sculptor himself, less important characters like e.g. the father of the murdered girl are fully rounded and brought to life.
To me it's interesting that the 'sculptor' actually had talent - and was supported and encouraged (for a time) by a leading American sculptor of the day. An absolutely fascinating read!!