Fear, the city and one angry man.
Greenburg (Peaches & Daddy: A Story of the Roaring ’20s, the Birth of Tabloid Media, and the Courtship that Captured the Hearts and Imaginations of the American Public, 2008) relates the gripping and bizarre story of George Metesky, the “Mad Bomber” who, between 1940 and 1957, terrorized New York City with a series of pipe bombs placed in public restrooms, phone booths, theater seats and other public locations. Though his bombs caused no fatalities, 15 citizens sustained injuries, and Metesky’s elusion of the police engendered extreme anxiety in the populace and frustrated and humiliated the NYPD. In a clear, engaging style, Greenburg marshals the complex facts of the decades-long saga and paints a sympathetically three-dimensional portrait of Metesky, a paranoid schizophrenic with a long-held grudge against the Con Edison power company for failure to pay workman’s compensation after he sustained an injury in its employ. The manhunt would have far-reaching impact on police work, as desperate investigators turned to unconventional methods after being stymied in their pursuit; chief among these innovations was the decision to consult with prominent psychiatrist James Brussel in an attempt to infer personal details about the faceless terrorist through a sort of educated guesswork. Brussel’s contributions proved strikingly germane, and “criminal profiling” would become a key component in investigations ever after. Metesky’s legal battles after his capture would also prove influential, his tireless letter-writing campaign eventually leading to reforms in the handling of the criminally insane.
A compelling account of a dangerously angry man and the investigation that helped to revolutionize modern police work.