A cautionary saga about how the criminal-justice system can spin out of control.

THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE

Meticulous account of the collaboration between American thriller author Preston (Blasphemy, 2008, etc.) and Italian journalist Spezi to plumb a long-unsolved series of murders.

Between 1974 and 1985, seven couples were killed while having sex in parked cars in the hills around Florence, Preston learned shortly after he moved to Italy in August 2000. One of those double homicides occurred in an olive grove next to the stone farmhouse he had just moved into with his family. Preston’s informant was Spezi, who had covered the serial killings and dubbed their perpetrator “the Monster of Florence.” Italian authorities had charged various men with one or more of the murders. Some had been brought to trial; one had been convicted but acquitted on appeal. Looking back to a seemingly unrelated killing in 1968, Spezi believed he had determined the identity of the actual killer, and Preston bought his theory. The pair began to write a book outlining their ideas, and the Italian authorities retaliated by harassing them. In February 2006, Preston was interrogated by a police captain who accused him and Spezi of planting false evidence, then essentially told the American to get out of Italy and not come back. Spezi was arrested on April 7, 12 days before Dolci Colline di Sangue was slated to be published, accused not only of obstructing justice but of somehow being involved in the Monster of Florence murders. Three weeks later, a judicial tribunal exonerated him of all charges and he was released. The police detective and prosecutor responsible for Preston’s interrogation and Spezi’s arrest, as well as mishandling the serial-killing investigation, are awaiting trial on charges of abuse of office. With so many characters and so many theories about the case, the book is sometimes difficult to follow, and Preston’s flat prose does little to help. He is a likable narrator, however, and his commitment to untrammeled press freedom is inspiring.

A cautionary saga about how the criminal-justice system can spin out of control.

Pub Date: June 11, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-446-58119-6

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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