Books by Stanley Cohen

Released: April 5, 2016

"A valuable accounting of a hidden societal plague, likelier to appeal to attorneys, students, and activists than to the police officers, prosecutors, and 'tough on crime' types who should read it."
A disturbing compendium of wrongful convictions resulting in death sentences, focusing on individual stories and patterns of institutional failure. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 7, 2006

"Meticulous, squalidly atmospheric reconstruction of a landmark case."
A sensational 1912 murder dissected as a watershed event in the history of organized crime in New York City. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

"At his best, though, in 'Nadigo,' a ghostly anecdote about what happens when two young men get off a train in the middle of Arizona nowhere, or in the superlatively creepy title story, Cohen has something of Scheherezade's gift of keeping you reading because you just can't stop."
Some mystery writers start with conventional forms—the whodunit, the caper, the tale of revenge—and fill them in; Cohen (Taking Gary Feldman, 1970, etc.) starts with nifty ideas and fills them out. An endodontist lugs home a discarded rug just like the one his wife craves and finds a body rolled inside; a bagman is stranded with a locked briefcase bulging with banknotes in midtown Manhattan. "A Case of Grand Cru" and "The Ransom of Retta Chiefman" update "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Ransom of Red Chief." And a surprising number of these 15 reprints from 1973 to 2000 have their origins in dreams. Sometimes Cohen's premises run down instead of winding up, as in "Neville," which uses Jamaican voodoo for a flat sample of exotica, or "I'm Sorry, Mr. Griggs," which turns a disgruntled sharpshooter loose at a ski lift. And the stories that involve escalating conflicts, like the battle of wits between the homeowner and the delinquent in "The Battered Mailbox," the idealistic landlord and his tenants in "How Much Justice Can You Afford?" or the wealthy citizen and the couple he takes out for a fast-food lunch in "Homeless, Hungry, Please Help," gather so much momentum that their payoffs are inevitably anticlimactic. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1998

A memoir so engaging that one wishes it were longer. For 40 years, Garbus (Ready for the Defense, 1971) has been one of our premier lawyers in the fields of First Amendment, publishing, and copyright law. He defended Lenny Bruce in one of the obscenity trials that drove the stand-up satirist to death; turned back the libel suit that delayed publication of Peter Matthiessen's book on the Wounded Knee shoot-out; advised Daniel Ellsberg on bringing the Pentagon Papers to public attention; negotiated Spike Lee's purchase of the Rodney King tapes for use in the film Malcolm X; represented Samuel Beckett when the Nobelist felt that a US theater company had altered the meaning of his play Endgame; and was Prodigy's attorney in one of the first major "cyberlaw" cases. Publishing clients dropped Garbus after he helped John Cheever's family enjoin publication of the author's unpublished early stories, and his fellow libel lawyers turned on him when he represented a rape victim who was unjustly accused by a columnist of fabricating her story. He went to Prague in 1979 to defend Vaclav Havel against a charge of subversion; ten years later, he returned to help draft the new democracy's constitution. Along the way, he brought seminal lawsuits on behalf of welfare recipients in the 1960s and was shot at while aiding Cesar Chavez. Garbus and co-author Cohen (The Man in the Crowd, 1981) are especially deft at laying out complex legal issues for the general reader. Disappointingly, Garbus says little about what seems to have been a fascinating personal life; in particular, his growth from a timid youth convinced that he would spend his life in his father's Bronx candy store might have been fleshed out to the reader's pleasure and instruction. A fine read for anyone interested in the interaction of law and public life. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1993

Likable, well-told autobiography of the world's greatest pocket billiards player, full of superb billiard lore and tales of giants of the cue. Even those who have never played pool will enjoy this engaging story of a Philadelphia billiards prodigy who was playing for stakes at age six and who, a year later, challenged (but lost to) then-World Champion Ralph Greenleaf. Mosconi (writing here with Cohen, A Magic Summer, 1988, etc.) heard billiard balls clicking in earliest childhood, the sound coming from tables in his father's pool hall below the boy's bedroom, and at age five began playing while standing on a box. Though his father tried to deny him access to the tables, Mosconi unveiled a talent so great that his stunned dad began showing the kid off in matches at his and other pool halls. At age seven, Mosconi defeated ten-year-old Juvenile Champion Ruth McGinnis, and, when he turned ten himself, retired undefeated. When the Depression hit, Mosconi reentered the sport for prize money, soon learning that tournament masters had an analytic sense of the game far superior to that of pool hustlers out to con inferior players. Mosconi himself never hustled—though, as a joke, Toots Shor once brought him in to beat braggart Jackie Gleason, who didn't know Mosconi by sight. The author commended Gleason to director Robert Rossen to play Minnesota Fats in The Hustler, for which Mosconi acted as technical adviser and as Paul Newman's trainer. Many legendary games are replayed here as Mosconi shows—quite modestly—how his fast, nervous style won the World Championship 15 times and at last crushed the real-life Minnesota Fats on TV's Wide World of Sports. You're on the green felt, kissing a solid-colored ball into a side pocket and stopping on a dime, positioned perfectly for the next ball. Marvelous. (Photographs—not seen) Read full book review >