The Leopold and Loeb Files: An Intimate Look at One of America’s Most Infamous Crimes

Nina Barrett. Agate Midway, $35 (304p) ISBN 978-1-57284-240-3
Photographs, interview transcripts, newspaper accounts, and more create an entrancing mosaic chronicle of a notorious early-20th-century murder. In 1924, two affluent University of Chicago students, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, kidnapped and killed 14-year-old Robert Franks for the primary purpose of pulling off a perfect murder. Barrett, who curated an exhibit on the case in 2009 at the Northwestern Library, writes that the crime’s “persistence lies in its essentially inscrutable nature, which both demands and somehow ultimately evades all attempts at a satisfactory explanation.” She then reconstructs the murder, Leopold and Loeb’s arrests, and the subsequent trial through a collection of annotated archival material. Sensationalized newspaper accounts illustrate the public fixation on the suspects and what was largely perceived to be their sexual deviance, after detectives uncovered a letter to Loeb in Leopold’s bedroom that sounded “suspiciously like an angry lover’s letter.” Barrett’s collection of primary sources results in a fresh view of an infamous crime, as well as the social mores of an era. Illus. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/23/2018
Release date: 07/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-1-57284-819-1
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