REVERSAL OF FORTUNE by Alan M. Dershowitz


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The trial of the century""--more than one commentator has given that title to Claus von Bulow's trial, appeal and retrial for the attempted murder of his wealthy socialite wife, Sunny. Now the Harvard law professor who conducted von Bulow's appeal, and orchestrated the second trial that ended in his acquittal tells all. Some of the best ""dirt"" never made it to either trial--a shady drug-dealer-priest connection that might have implicated von Bulow's stepson; Truman Capote's longtime knowledge of Sunny von Bulow and her drug habits--so ultimately Dershowitz and his team relied exclusively on a second hard look at the medical evidence. Dershowitz includes it all here anyway. Somewhat briefer, and hence less clear, are his explanations of the legal underpinnings of his story; at one point he characterizes the process of appeal as focusing on ""dry legal issues""--not really helpful information. Later, his quick consideration of what the von Bulow case has to tell us about the American system of justice reads like an apologia for all the money spent on the trial and earned by books like this. Dershowitz is equally unconvincing as the poor Brooklyn boy in the world of the international jet set--the ""golly gee, who'd have thunk it"" tone he uses to describe his first meeting with his client is downright embarrassing, and he's equally heavy-handed when recounting the quips and occasional pranks of his students and associates. The bottom line is that the trial of the century is a hard act to ruin--and Dershowitz hasn't. That great plot keeps shining through like rhinestones. It's just that Dershowitz hasn't helped it much either.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1986
Publisher: Random House