THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY: The Legend of Leopold and Loeb by Hal Higdon

THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY: The Legend of Leopold and Loeb

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In terms of wanton senselessness and flagrant sensationalism, the Leopold-Loeb case was to the '20's what the Manson case is to our decade; it also had considerable coverage in the '50's --not only a tasteful novel (Yaffe's), Leopold's own written-in-prison version, and the overriding success--Levin's Compulsion. For those who remember none of them (or the movie), the covert where the body of fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks was found, and a week later, Leopold's eye-glasses--the clincher--may not be such familiar ground. Higdon bases much of his material on the official transcripts and the famous trial where one newspaper accused the psychiatrists of ""romping in psychiatric playgrounds"" while rumpled Clarence Darrow declared it the ""senseless act of immature and diseased children."" The more social Loeb (who quipped to a friend before his arrest ""You've just enjoyed the treat of shaking hands with a murderer"") was no doubt the instigator although no one has ever determined which one really applied the cudgel to young Franks. Both went to jail where they remained ""princes of privilege"" (thanks to their wealthy Chicago Jewish backgrounds), where Loeb was killed (another episode with conflicting testimony) and from which Leopold emerged to end his days doing good works, and marrying in Puerto Rico. Higdon, a tireless writer, has done a reputable job and the story remains, as it was, one of those gratuitous whims of violence ugly beyond belief and ex post facto rationalization.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1975
Publisher: Putnam