Cover Image: Arrested Adolescence

Arrested Adolescence

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The murder trial of Leopold was something else - but afterward, he became a changed person. There was a presence that he had in prison, and he worked hard to keep a clean image behind bars. Many said it was not sincere, but there were some that said it was.

Interesting read. This case was a hard one, but the author lays everything out well. Great true crime for those that are interested in the genre.

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Thanks to the publisher and author for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. I have always been fascinated by this “crime of the century “, as a true crime of the century. I am a terrible speller and I know the French term I want to use to describe these two, but I will butcher it so I’m just going to say toxic, they were a toxic couple. And of course who else could have ever felt more confident to defend these two but Darrow? I am totally enthralled by Darrow and the cases he took. I won’t discuss those here, I think Leopoldo and Loeb truly did think they were invincible at a time in history when drugs or guns weren’t even necessary to commit grievous acts. It just goes to show there is no such thing as A PERFECT MURDER! And if anyone thought there was it was certainly these two. Too intelligent with too much money and too much time on their hands. The case was laid out very well, and the author did a good job of debunking myths. I think that is so important in a murder investigation. Also this case proves that sometimes simple gumshoe tactics are all that are needed to solve a murder case. I hate saying I really enjoyed reading this book, but it was put together very well. From what I know of the case nothing was missed, and more was discovered. Definitely impressive!

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Arrested Adolescence is a biography of Nathan Leopold, of Leopold & Loeb. If you do not know who Leopold & Loeb are, they were young adults who in 1924 kidnapped and killed a child, Bobby Franks, in Hyde Park Chicago. It was the crime of the century. This biography is not about that crime but about Leopold's entire life. And I do mean entire life.

If you do know anything about the crime you probably heard that Loeb was the mastermind and that he manipulated Leopold through out their relationship. During the first part of the book where Rebain focuses on Leopold's childhood through the crime, there is a feel that the victim story is true, yet he spends a lot of time during the prison years giving a different impression that the image rehabilitation story of Leopold as a victim might not be true.

The third part of the book focuses on his post prison life in Puerto Rico. If ever you have any sympathy for Leopold or buy into his version of what happened in 1924, this part will shatter that. Leopold is a disgusting human being who prays on young boys and gets away with everything.

This is a long book and is too much. Rebain writes about every event that seems to have occurred in Leopold's life. In this case, I would have been fine with broad ideas of his life and maybe one or two examples but I did not need to know about every "boy" he had in prison and every actual boy he groomed in Puerto Rico. It is not a bad biography is just needed some reducing.

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This is one of those books that fascinated me. The topic itself is what did it for me. I had already heard of 'em prior to stumbling upon this book and there were many questions that I needed to know. Good read, def recommend.

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Princess Fuzzypants here: For almost 100 years the crimes of teenagers Leopold and Loeb have fascinated the public. Why two wealthy, very intelligent boys would murder Bobby Franks has grabbed the interest of so many who have tried to understand the motivation. Certainly the last 100 years has harvested more than its share of perverted and vicious crimes. Sentenced to life, Loeb would die in a prison attack long before there was any hope of parole. He had been the leader of the two as Leopold almost worshiped him and would have followed him anywhere. Before his death, the two had started on a path to try and rehabilitate their reputations. That some real good was done is undeniable. However, in light of Leopold’s life after Loeb’s death to his own, the reader has to wonder how much was fact and how much was fiction.

Loeb knew instinctively how to “play the room”. His social skills were a wonder to Leopold who was and would always be an odd fish. But his legacy would be the understanding he imparted to Leopold that if he had any hope of a life after prison, he would need to reinvent his story. And this he did. He was a philanthropist, a mentor, someone who participated in worthy projects and works who was the epitome of rehabilitation. He accomplished this while still committing the same hedonistic activities with no sense of regret or remorse. He successfully led a double life at a time when revelation of his foibles would have brought ruin to him.

What is perhaps most interesting in reading the book is the impact that he made in the public perception of prisons, punishment and rehabilitation. Whilst he was the shining example of how someone can change who they are fundamentally, it proved to be his greatest con.
His life and legacy is a dichotomy. It makes a compelling tale. Four purrs and two paws up.

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As a true crime reader I found this book to be the best that I have read on the life of Nathan Leopold. Highly recommend.

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Aptly titled Arrested Adolescence by Erik Rebain is a fascinating (and infuriating!) study about the lives and minds of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb who grew up in wealthy families in Chicago in the early 1900s and when still teenagers killed Bobby Franks for the sake of killing. The main focus is on Nathan Leopold, his childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Rebain writes candidly and graphically about all aspects of Leopold from his incredible intelligence, sexuality and his arrogant personality to cold-hearted killing, criminal trial, exhibiting model prison behaviour to his life after prison.

Many questions are answered yet many remain, particularly whether Leopold was reformed in prison after taking Bobby's life in 1924. He nursed and taught in prison but good deeds do not equate to a changed heart. From author Rebain's meticulous research It seems to me he was remorseless and manipulative. After his release to rural Puerto Rico in 1971 he married and lived luxuriously, apparently gentle and philanthropic and as though Bobby's murder hadn't happened. It was especially compelling to read about Leopold's wife's views after his death. Loeb's life ended much differently.

After reading this well-researched book, my knowledge of this case has grown immensely and I have gained a much better understanding of the people involved, even though parts of the book are a bit drawn out. If true crime interests you, do read this.

My sincere thank you to Rowman & Littlefield and NetGalley for providing me with an early digital copy of this arresting book.

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I sighed with relief when the focus of this book FINALLY died. This is quite a macabre description of one man's life that begins with a horrific crime and then after the decades he survived in prison, continues to tout his goodness and brought terror and abuse to so many others. Simultaneously he used his personality and charm to win over dozens of people, who in turn helped him escape any sort of real punishment. I understand that this was a true look at Leopold's life, however it did feel just like a long string of offenses the man committed throughout his life and made me feel incredibly depressed and just have no faith in the world. Not an enlightening or fun read.

Thanks to the publisher, NetGalley and the author for the ARC.

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Arrested Adolescence by Erik Rebain is the story of how Nathan Leopold got away with it. Of course, Leopold of the notorious Leopold and Loeb murder case did go to jail. However, his life after jail is very often treated as a footnote in the numerous books which almost exclusively focus on the murder of Bobby Franks. I am not someone who has dived completely into the case and has read only a couple of books on the subject. Leopold and Loeb are a cottage industry of true crime, but Rebain forges a new path by putting the spotlight on just Leopold. The result is a well-written and infuriating look at a man who never reformed, just merely changed the way he ruined people's lives.

The book is really in three main parts. The first is Leopold's childhood and the murder of Franks. I don't think there is much new territory for anyone to cover here. The real revelations begin in the second part which focuses entirely on Leopold's incarceration. I found this section to be at least partially enlightening as Rebain shows the manipulative and parasitic side of Leopold. Often, the incarceration story ends with the murder of Loeb. Here, Rebain continues to the third part which is the post jail life of Leopold. This section is an enraging revelation as Leopold is shown to have never changed. He is still using people, only caring for himself, but becomes much better at self-promotion. It is a must read for true crime buffs and a a welcome addition to the Leopold and Loeb anthology.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Rowman & Littlefield.)

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I went into the book knowing very little about the Leopold and Loeb case or the men for that matter. I had heard of the 1924 murder committed for no apparent reason except that the boys wanted to know what it was like to murder someone and whether or not they could get away with it. But beyond that I knew nothing else. This book does not hold back on the events that led to the murder or afterwards and Leopold’s life both in prison and out.

Although the story was interesting, I did find the narrative a bit dry and at times long winded. I was fascinated by the way the cops caught the two boys after the murder and was appalled at the conditions in the prison they were sent to. It is surprising that Leopold was able to survive. He was able to do some ‘good’ work while in prison, such as starting a school for the prisoners and helping with medical research, but it was only so that he could gain privileges for himself. His work in prison reform was also interesting, but again he only saw it as a way to promote himself in the eyes of the public.

Nathan Leopold’s life was an interesting one and the author does not hold back on the good or the bad aspects of it. This is an honest account of everything Leopold did and accomplished. The author has done a meticulous job with his research and it shows. Even some of the most mundane details were told. But it all comes down to whether or not Leopold was rehabilitated and I have to agree with the author that he most definitely was not. He lived his life the way he wanted, and for the most part didn’t care if others were hurt by his actions. He cared for no one but himself, although he presented a much different persona to the world and was able to charm many people into thinking otherwise.

This is a biography with a lot to discuss and think about. I highly recommend it to those familiar with the case and even to those whose only interest is in true crime. It is a fascinating look at a very interesting life.

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I’d heard the term “Leopold & Loeb” before but didn’t understand what it meant or where it had originated from. So I went into this book with no knowledge of their personalities, the crime, or the outcome of their lives. The author has spent seven years researching the life of Nathan Leopold and it shows from the outset of the book. The book provides the complete life of this man down to even some of the most mundane details. It’s an incredibly well put together look of everything and everyone that formed this person from birth to death. Leopold is complex and the author does well to explain him.

Leopold & Loeb were two extremely intelligent boys born to upper class families who both entered college at 15. While their personalities seemed to clash in the beginning they found solace in each other due to their peers being so much older. They found a give and take with each other and enjoyed pushing the boundaries against the perceptions people had of them prior to the crime coming to light. The book details their friendship and it’s idiosyncrasies.

I enjoyed the psychiatry insights on why the boys behaved a specific way shedding light on their motivations. The author’s description of how the police came to first suspect them, how neighbors were vouching for them and then how the police received their convictions was filled with anxiety as all the dots connected. Despite the crime having occurred so long ago, the author does an incredible job of placing you in the moment. I also enjoyed reading about how Leopold found purpose in prison and the way he gave back to society not necessarily as penance as much as self preservation.

The author has provided what seems to be Leopoldo’s complete life and incredible insight into his motivations and compulsions. While Leopold did incredible things for society and his friends/acquaintances he was still involved in a terrible crime and not everything he did was for redemption if he was benefitting from his actions. The book is worth reading because the author doesn’t try to redeem Leopold, or make him all bad or all good; he presents him exactly as he was. Ultimately despite trying to “redeem” himself, it’s revealed he never changed and he lived by the same philosophy throughout his life. It was a refreshing read and I think it would make great discussion in a book club.

Thank you to Rowman & Littlefield for this ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Thoroughgoing and objective, for the most part, filled with more detail than you ever wanted to know about Nathan Leopold: the murderer, the egoist, the self-promoter. Great going if you can take it. The Conclusion is a little too abrupt and a tad superficial; but then, how does one reach a "conclusion" about a man as witty, brainy, and mad as Nathan Leopold?

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In this gripping and meticulously researched new biography, Erik Rebain delves into the life of Nathan Leopold, one of the two notorious killers responsible for the murder of Bobby Franks in 1924. With access to previously unseen archival collections, Rebain paints a nuanced and complex portrait of Leopold, who, despite his privileged upbringing and early promise, became embroiled in a crime that shocked the nation. Rebain traces Leopold's path from the trial of the century, where he was defended by the famous Clarence Darrow, to his eventual parole and rehabilitation in Puerto Rico, where he devoted himself to social work and advocated for prison reform. Along the way, Rebain unravels the secrets and motivations that have long been hidden from history, offering a fresh and illuminating perspective on this infamous case.

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With his new book, Arrested Adolescence, Erik Rebain provides an efficient road map in for beginning researchers, and a succinct overview for “one and done” readers looking for the “best book” to read about the Leopold and Loeb case.

I was pleased to receive an ARC copy from NetGalley, and I thank them for the opportunity to read and review Arrested Adolescence before its release.

For students and aficionados of the case, Rebain’s book is a welcome addition that explores in depth the (previously obscure) final years of Nathan Leopold’s life.

The book starts out with a peek at this period - a quiet vignette of Leopold taking in the opera years after his parole. It is immediately clear that Rebain is masterful when it comes to pulling forth anecdotes that bring both boys to life for a modern audience. He summarizes his interpretation of their relationship in one sentence. Since this interpretation aligns with my own, I am in absolute awe of his ability to neatly condense what would take me pages of text to explain.

Readers seeking in-depth discussion of uncertainties in the case, or Leopold’s psychology will be disappointed. Many aspects, including pinpointing Loeb’s sexuality and the issue of which boy physically attacked Bobby Franks, have been hotly debated for almost 100 years. Rebain quietly makes those hard calls for us, inserting his (probably correct) choices seamlessly into the narrative. Unfortunately, a casual reader might miss the ambiguity of the historical record.

In addition, the historical record is clear that Leopold was emotionally, sexually, and physically abused as a young child and may have subsequently suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result. It is also clear that, as a gay male in the 1900s, Leopold was faced with the sort of continual, systemic discrimination that almost always has a pervasive, negative impact on an individual’s mental health, relationships, philosophy of life, and sense of self-worth. Lastly, Leopold, by virtue of his intelligence, was not a neuro-typical person. For those of us familiar with the spectrum between Attention Deficit Disorder and Autism, character traits like Leopold’s love of categorization, impaired empathy, continual professional migration, and yes, his defiance of authority, indicate that maybe he was neuro-divergent in other ways as well.

Yet Leopold is given no quarter in the narrative, and there is a thread of distaste for him that runs throughout. Distaste for his participation in an adolescent’s murder when he himself was underage is more than understandable. But the analysis that Leopold shamelessly exploited his “fans”, his wife, and his lovers ignores the grim reality that some - if not all of them - were shamelessly exploiting him right back.

In the end, Rebain’s confidence in his assessments of debatable material, and his refusal to be a Leopold or Loeb apologist does not detract from the book. He owns the story, and he tells it with a compelling voice.

The book is, in essence, a lean, well-told biography of Leopold’s entire life. Who Leopold was as a person has not been nearly as important to our society as the personal and social issue sandbox his case provided for us. Rebain’s in-depth portrait fills a void that was vacant for far too long.

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3.5 stars. A little too slow moving for me. I really need an engaging story for me to enjoy a non-fiction book.

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4 stars
Exceedingly well written book about a tragic murder by two boys for no reason at all. The author has done extensive research and it gets a little bit long winded but still a must read book for true crime readers.

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