THE WITCH OF NEW YORK

THE TRIALS OF POLLY BODINE AND THE CURSED BIRTH OF TABLOID JUSTICE

A lively history of early New York through one woman’s horrendous ordeal.

The sad, sordid story of the first American woman to face trial for capital murder.

Mary Houseman Bodine (c. 1810-1892) was excoriated as “a fallen woman” and murderer before she was even tried in court for the deaths of her sister-in-law and infant niece in 1843. Having moved back to her father’s house on Staten Island, after leaving her abusive husband and taking her two children with her, Bodine often stayed over at her brother’s cottage, which was adjacent to her father’s. On the night of the crime, with only a shaky alibi when the house next door burned down, and perhaps the last to have seen her sister-in-law alive, Bodine was quickly suspected of the murders and also robbery, compounded by her disappearing into Manhattan and apparently pawning items at shops around town. Hortis, a constitutional lawyer, crime historian, and author of The Mob and the City, looks at how the rivaling tabloids and their owners—including James Gordon Bennett of the Herald and Moses Yale Beach of the Sun—tried to outdo each other in sensational coverage of Bodine’s story, relying on hearsay and fabrication to sell more papers. The author capably describes the melee of commerce and scandal that bristled in early New York City. The details that emerged—of Bodine’s romance with an apothecary in Manhattan, the boss of her teenaged apprentice son, and her advanced pregnancy—added to the prurient interest at the time, as did articles by Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman and a witchlike wax figure in P.T. Barnum’s museum. Hortis has combed the archives for material related to Bodine’s three explosive trials, and the book ultimately ends in her acquittal in a Newburgh, New York, court in 1846; he makes palpable the shameful character assassination and “slut-shaming” that Bodine endured.

A lively history of early New York through one woman’s horrendous ordeal.

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781639363919

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pegasus Crime

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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