Books by Peter Benjaminson

SUPER FREAK by Peter Benjaminson
Released: March 1, 2017

"For music fans who must read everything about James or who have never read anything about him."
Benjaminson (Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar, 2012, etc.) delivers a matter-of-fact biography of a musician whose extremes—both the highs and the lows—defy belief. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2012

"A moving tribute to an artist who should not be forgotten."
From journalist and Motown chronicler Benjaminson (The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard, 2009, etc.), a compelling, sympathetic biography of Motown's first diva Mary Wells (1943-1992). Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2008

"Pair this with Wilson's equally revealing autobiography Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme (1986), and you've got an unmatchable snapshot of the exhilarating yet often ugly 1960s soul music scene."
A book-length portrait of the best singer in Motown's biggest group, delivered three decades after her death. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1997

An employee of New York City's undercover investigative agency (and former reporter for the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers) here reveals very little about very few cases. The Department of Investigation does some of the more interesting work in New York: Its undercover investigators look into white-collar crimes and corruption that the police don't have the resources to investigate. Benjaminson (Death in the Afternoon: America's Newspaper Giants Struggle for Survival, 1984) worked at the DOI in its heyday, from 1991 to 1993. The DOI, it seems, typically suffers from in-fighting, corruption, and many of the troubles it was formed to combat, but in 1991 Susan Shepard, who was dead-set on honesty, took command. The cases described here range from a welfare scam that netted $45 million to a parking- meter ploy that resulted in the loss of a lot of quarters. But the stories suffer from both a paucity of compelling material and from a mediocre telling. While Benjaminson is purportedly interested in justice, his real fury erupts when he details the number of times other departments, particularly the office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, took credit for DOI arrests. It's sad that Benjaminson has very little to say about the reasons for, and effects of, the light sentences the DOI criminals face. These white-collar criminals, all of whom have looted the city's coffers, get little to no prison time, and some are rewarded—the upstate water police, for example, preferred giving out speeding tickets to actually guarding the state's water supply, and as punishment were given brand-new cruisers. In his desire to claim bragging rights, Benjaminson neglects the bigger picture, and the book comes off sounding like a series of petty complaints. A catalog of minutiae that trivializes the crimes it reports and the DOI's relevance to New York. Read full book review >