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

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As always, Professor Dershowitz has written a spellbinding legal mystery book. Almost everyone who reads the book will enjoy it. I know I did.

Also characteristic of the Dershowitz works I have read, there is a dark side to the tale, a warning. In this case, the corruption, bias, prejudice and outright dishonesty of the Rhode Island Courts, prosecutor's office and home-boy lawyers' network are chilling. When you finish this book you will know that if you have a problem in Providence, Rhode, Island, and if you are not a well-connected and well-heeled local, you need to make your move to Belize or someplace- and fast. You're not getting any justice.

This book was written years ago. His more recent writings still beat that drum- the legal system is not to be trusted, at least not if you are an ordinary American. Individual guilt or innocence are largely irrelevant compared to attitudes and predispositions of judges and personal proclivity and political aspiration of prosecutors.

Read this book, and enjoy it.

Then, beware.
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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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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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