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The Murder of the Century

Cover of The Murder of the Century

The Murder of the Century

The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars
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In Long Island, a farmer found a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discovered a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumbled upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime were turning up all over New York, but the police were baffled: There were no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most perplexing murder. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Re-creations of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell's Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio—an anxious cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor—all raced to solve the crime. What emerged was a sensational love triangle and an even more sensational trial: an unprecedented capital case hinging on circumstantial evidence around a victim that the police couldn't identify with certainty, and that the defense claimed wasn't even dead. The Murder of the Century is a rollicking tale—a rich evocation of America during the Gilded Age and a colorful re-creation of the tabloid wars that have dominated media to this day.
In Long Island, a farmer found a duck pond turned red with blood. On the Lower East Side, two boys playing at a pier discovered a floating human torso wrapped tightly in oilcloth. Blueberry pickers near Harlem stumbled upon neatly severed limbs in an overgrown ditch. Clues to a horrifying crime were turning up all over New York, but the police were baffled: There were no witnesses, no motives, no suspects. The grisly finds that began on the afternoon of June 26, 1897, plunged detectives headlong into the era's most perplexing murder. Seized upon by battling media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, the case became a publicity circus. Re-creations of the murder were staged in Times Square, armed reporters lurked in the streets of Hell's Kitchen in pursuit of suspects, and an unlikely trio—an anxious cop, a cub reporter, and an eccentric professor—all raced to solve the crime. What emerged was a sensational love triangle and an even more sensational trial: an unprecedented capital case hinging on circumstantial evidence around a victim that the police couldn't identify with certainty, and that the defense claimed wasn't even dead. The Murder of the Century is a rollicking tale—a rich evocation of America during the Gilded Age and a colorful re-creation of the tabloid wars that have dominated media to this day.
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  • Paul Collins is the author of eight books. An assistant professor of English in the MFA program at Portland State University, Collins is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the founding editor of the Collins Library imprint of McSweeney's Books. His work has appeared in Slate, New Scientist, and the New York Times, and he is regularly featured on NPR's Weekend Edition as their "literary detective."

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  • AudioFile Magazine William Dufris does wonders narrating this long, convoluted tale of the shocking murder and mutilation of William Guldensuppe in New York City in the summer of 1897. If this were fiction, critics would call it overplotted, melodramatic, and far-fetched, but every detail of this sensational crime story, incredibly, is true. Dufris keeps interest high with his energetic, intelligent reading. From the discovery of a headless, legless torso in the East River, to the battle between newspaper giants Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst and the onset of yellow journalism, to the trial of the accused and its lurid details--Dufris offers a colorful narration of the bizarre incidents that kept turn-of-the-century New Yorkers glued to their tabloids. S.J.H. (c) AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine
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The Murder of the Century
The Murder of the Century
The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars
Paul Collins
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