Despite the impressive research and mostly compelling final chapter, much of the book feels like an information dump filled...




An in-depth examination of a well-known murder.

The book is not a whodunit. Rather, Los Angeles–based journalist McGough (Bat Boy: Coming of Age with the New York Yankees, 2005) offers a police procedural about why a 1986 murder took more than two decades to solve and whether police knowingly protected the murderer: one of their own detectives. The victim was Sherri Rasmussen, a 29-year-old nurse and newlywed who was killed while alone in her home in LA. Her parents and a few of her friends knew that she had been harassed before the murder by a longtime girlfriend of her husband, John. The harasser, Stephanie Lazarus, worked as a young LAPD officer at the time of the murder. John and Rasmussen’s father both told the author that they had informed homicide detectives about the harassment. However, because McGough did not start reporting about the murder until Lazarus’ 2009 arrest, he could not find definitive information in the messy, incomplete police files about the case. What the author’s painstaking digging clearly demonstrates, beyond a doubt, is that the detectives assigned to the case decided nearly right away that Rasmussen was murdered during a burglary gone wrong. Adoption of that theory led to tunnel vision, which meant that the idea of a fellow officer as the perpetrator never received serious attention until two decades later, when a detective looking at cold cases stumbled on the Rasmussen file. McGough does not discuss how the cold-case detectives nailed Lazarus until more than 500 pages in. Before that, he examines the quotidian lives of Sheri, John, and Stephanie while sometimes taking detours to examine dozens of other characters. Relying on extended citations from bureaucratic memos and other opaque documents, McGough delivers a fairly unremarkable narrative until the end of the book, when the investigation of Lazarus as the potential murderer begins.

Despite the impressive research and mostly compelling final chapter, much of the book feels like an information dump filled with irrelevant and repetitious details. Its 600 pages could have been 250.

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9559-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2019

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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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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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