Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence

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Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence

by Bill James

Scribner | May 8, 2012 | Trade Paperback

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The man who revolutionized the way we think about baseball examines our cultural obsession with murder—delivering a unique, engrossing, brilliant history of tabloid crime in America.

Celebrated writer and contrarian Bill James has voraciously read true crime throughout his life and has been interested in writing a book on the topic for decades. With Popular Crime, James takes readers on an epic journey from Lizzie Borden to the Lindbergh baby, from the Black Dahlia to O. J. Simpson, explaining how crimes have been committed, investigated, prosecuted and written about, and how that has profoundly influenced our culture over the last few centuries—even if we haven’t always taken notice.

Exploring such phenomena as serial murder, the fluctuation of crime rates, the value of evidence, radicalism and crime, prison reform and the hidden ways in which crimes have shaped, or reflected, our society, James chronicles murder and misdeeds from the 1600s to the present day. James pays particular attention to crimes that were sensations during their time but have faded into obscurity, as well as still-famous cases, some that have never been solved, including the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Boston Strangler and JonBenet Ramsey. Satisfyingly sprawling and tremendously entertaining, Popular Crime is a professed amateur’s powerful examination of the incredible impact crime stories have on our society, culture and history.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 512 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.3 in

Published: May 8, 2012

Publisher: Scribner

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 141655274X

ISBN - 13: 9781416552741

Found in: Social and Cultural Studies

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– More About This Product –

Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence

by Bill James

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 512 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.3 in

Published: May 8, 2012

Publisher: Scribner

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 141655274X

ISBN - 13: 9781416552741

Read from the Book

I In Rome in the year 24 AD, the praetor Plautius Silvanus pushed his wife Apronia out of the window in the middle of the night. They hadn’t been married very long, or, we might guess, very happily. It was a high window, and she did not survive the fall. Silvanus was a member of one of Rome’s most celebrated and successful families. His father, also Plautius Silvanus, had been consul in 2 BCE. His grandmother, Urgulania, was a close friend of the empress, and a cousin, Urgulanilla, was then married to the man who would later become the emperor Claudius. Apronia’s father rushed to the palace and awakened the emperor Tiberius. Tiberius went immediately to the scene of the crime, where he saw obvious signs of a struggle and the marks of Apronia being forced out the window. Silvanus had no explanation. He claimed that he had been asleep at the time, and that Apronia must have leapt to her death. He was arrested, judges were appointed, and Tiberius presented his evidence to the Roman senate. A great public scandal arose, in the midst of which Urgulania sent her grandson a dagger. This was taken to be a hint. Silvanus attempted to stab himself with the dagger, and, that failing, apparently enlisted the aid of confederates; in any case, Tacitus records that he “allowed his veins to be opened,” and was soon gone. There was still to be a trial, however. Silvanus’ first wife, Numantina, was put on trial on charges of having driven her late ex-husband
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From the Publisher

The man who revolutionized the way we think about baseball examines our cultural obsession with murder—delivering a unique, engrossing, brilliant history of tabloid crime in America.

Celebrated writer and contrarian Bill James has voraciously read true crime throughout his life and has been interested in writing a book on the topic for decades. With Popular Crime, James takes readers on an epic journey from Lizzie Borden to the Lindbergh baby, from the Black Dahlia to O. J. Simpson, explaining how crimes have been committed, investigated, prosecuted and written about, and how that has profoundly influenced our culture over the last few centuries—even if we haven’t always taken notice.

Exploring such phenomena as serial murder, the fluctuation of crime rates, the value of evidence, radicalism and crime, prison reform and the hidden ways in which crimes have shaped, or reflected, our society, James chronicles murder and misdeeds from the 1600s to the present day. James pays particular attention to crimes that were sensations during their time but have faded into obscurity, as well as still-famous cases, some that have never been solved, including the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Boston Strangler and JonBenet Ramsey. Satisfyingly sprawling and tremendously entertaining, Popular Crime is a professed amateur’s powerful examination of the incredible impact crime stories have on our society, culture and history.

About the Author

Bill James made his mark in the 1970s and 1980s with his Baseball Abstracts. He is currently the Senior Advisor on Baseball Operations for the Boston Red Sox. James lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and three children.

Editorial Reviews

"Popular Crime is bloodthirstily engrossing, and you can read it with the cover proudly showing, because this is an important study of American culture and the human animal''s fascination with violence. Bill James deserves a standing ovation."--Stephen King
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