Thursday, September 8, 2011

20 Books This Year: #15, "Popular Crime" by Bill James

I have been reading Bill James for years, but always as a baseball fan. He is, after all, the Father of Sabermetric Writing. So, when I found out he put out a book on crime, it caught me off guard. But, wowzers. It's an utterly compelling read, and to hear James discuss people such as Lizzie Borden, Bruno Hauptmann, The Boston Strangler, even Jon-Benet Ramsey and OJ, in the same curmudgeonly manner he speaks about first baseman, is fascinating. The chapter on the Kennedy assassination is quite compelling, mostly discussing one of the theories he read that makes the most sense.

James is focusing not only on the crimes themselves, but also the people who wrote about them, criticizing the major books on each crime. He is also not afraid to criticize police and legal techniques which were used for each case. If you're one of those people who watch all of the CSI or Court TV shows, you should read this book. Even if you're into understanding the fascination America has with such lurid stories, it's also worth a read. Grade: A

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