Leopold and Loeb

The Crime of the Century

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Pub Date Jan 02 2024 | Archive Date Feb 21 2024

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The centennial edition of Hal Higdon's razor-sharp account of a notorious murder

The 1924 murder of fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb shocked the nation. One hundred years later, the killing and its aftermath still reverberate through popular culture and the history of American crime.

Hal Higdon’s true crime classic offers an unprecedented examination of the case. Beginning with a new author Preface, Higdon details Leopold and Loeb’s journey from privilege and promise to the planning and execution of their monstrous vision of the perfect crime. Drawing on secret testimony, Higdon follows the police investigation through the pair’s confessions of guilt and re-creates the sensational hearing where Clarence Darrow, the nation’s most famous attorney, saved the pair from the death penalty.

Published in a new edition in observance of the case's centennial, Leopold and Loeb tells the dramatic story of a notorious crime and its long afterlife in the American imagination.

Hal Higdon is a longtime contributing editor to Runner’s World. He is the author of thirty-six books, including The Union vs. Dr. Mudd and Boston, a Century of Running.

The centennial edition of Hal Higdon's razor-sharp account of a notorious murder

The 1924 murder of fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb shocked the nation. One hundred...

Advance Praise

“Higdon’s book outdoes anything Alfred Hitchcock ever filmed. It is a masterpiece of suspense.”--Oakland Tribune

“There have been many spectacular murders in America since 1924, including a presidential assassination, but for the first half of the century, it was the murder of Bobby Franks that most shocked the public. Hal Higdon has superbly re-created the crime, combining painstaking documentation with an absorbing, often suspenseful narrative.”--Newsday

“Higdon’s book outdoes anything Alfred Hitchcock ever filmed. It is a masterpiece of suspense.”--Oakland Tribune

“There have been many spectacular murders in America since 1924, including a...

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ISBN 9780252087578
PRICE $21.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

One of my favorite cases in American true crime history told very well. I didn't notice many changes from earlier editions of it but if you still haven't read this book I highly recommend picking it up to learn about one of the most interesting cases ever.

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What compelled two wealthy, brilliant college boys to commit the “crime of the century”? Greed, boredom, arrogance? On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the crime, this reissue of a book originally published in 1974 leaves no facet or fact overlooked. There are surprisingly few photos in such a detailed book. However, the Chicago murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks remains a fascinating and famous moment in true crime history.

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Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with this book to review.

Leopold and Loeb: The Crime of the Century is a true-crime book written by Hal Higdon. It was first published in 1975 and is considered to be the definitive account of the 1924 murder of fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. The book was a bestseller and was adapted into a film in 1978.
Higdon's book is a detailed and well-researched account of the crime, the investigation, and the trial. He provides a balanced view of the case, giving attention to both the prosecution and the defense. He also explores the motivations of the two killers, who were both highly intelligent and came from wealthy families.
Higdon's book is a fascinating and disturbing read. It is a reminder of the evil that can exist even in the most seemingly normal people. It is also a cautionary tale about the dangers of peer pressure and the importance of moral values.
I highly recommend Leopold and Loeb: The Crime of the Century to anyone interested in true crime or the history of American law. It is a well-written and informative book that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

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This is a classic of true crime. I found it a great meditation on the darkness that can overcome humanity. I had read the original version but was interested in what would be added in this new edition, based on the centennial of the case. The young people I teach always find the story captivating, in part because of the age, in part because of the randomness of the murder. This point makes the murder a mystery to try and unravel. I have often compared the attention this case brings to the Holocaust. Both, while different on scale, attracts people to study the cause and motive of the people.

This book does a great job giving background and context to both of these men, and laying the groundwork for understanding the idea that these men would never have ordinarily been suspected of murder, let alone any kind of kidnapping. The book also does a great job of looking at the legal thriller aspect of the case, including Darrow and how the case helped shape his image of a celebrity during the time.

I have recommended the earlier editions to students, and I think the new edition would also be of interest to them.

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A classic piece of true crime writing which covers a case both fascinating and disturbing. It is hard to believe it is 100 years since the events occurred and a testament to the author that this long-published account stands up well as a comprehensive account.

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Free ARC from Net Galley

While this is a repress of the 1975 book, I think it still stands above most accounts with the writing style and detail. The thing is proving is the so-called new violence we twitter about today has been around a long, long time.
Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb managed to not only shock the prohibition but steal the press from everyone's favorite crook Capone. No small feat if you know the time period. Enjoy!

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This book is one that enthralled readers when first printed. The crime still has the capacity to shock and is one to examine. The themes of nurture versus nature and poverty compared with wealth are still necessary. The death of 14 year old Bobby Frank's is an unfathomable tragedy and in this book the author takes the reader through background of offenders to their ultimate end in incarceration.
I read this years ago but it still has investigative value today.

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This is one of the most intriguing true crime story I read and I read also in other books.
This is a well researched and well written book, highly recommended
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Leopold and Loeb were two well-educated and highly intelligent Jewish boys from wealthy South Side families. They chose 14 year old Bobby Franks at random as their victim. They were defended by the era's most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow. He requested that they not be put to death. They were imprisoned and while in jail Loeb was killed but Leopold was finally released after 30 years and lived until 1971 age 66. This was a very interesting case that was known as The Crime of the Century. If you like true crime then you will love this book. I would like to read another book about this murder in the future.

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I have consistently been interested in the Leopold and Loeb case, as I grew up right in the area – waiting for the bus directly in front of the Franks home, in fact. I’d heard many of the details as asides, the two rich boys wanting to commit the “perfect crime”, the Nietzschean super-mensch rationale, the finding of the glasses near the body. This book gave a very detailed look at the crime, the trial, and the incarceration. While I don’t believe I’d continue to argue that this was the crime of the century, I believe it is still a valuable read, a classic in the true crime genre.

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This new edition of a true crime classic explores the infamous 1924 murder of Bobby Franks by privileged teenagers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Delving into the sinister plot, shocking confessions, and sensational trial, it provides a gripping, definitive account of the heinous crime.

This is a fascinating and compelling story. It’s unfortunate that this new edition retains the homophobic language of the original.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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