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GASLIGHT LAWYERS

CRIMINAL TRIALS & EXPLOITS IN GILDED AGE NEW YORK

An accessible, marvelously rigorous account of a bygone legal era.

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A historical study of the often dysfunctional judicial system in late-19th-century New York City.

In the last third of the 1800s, Manhattan was a hotbed of crime, and its courts were often hamstrung by a toxic combination of unscrupulous law enforcement personnel and crude investigative techniques. In this book, Underwood (Law/Univ. of Kentucky; Crimesong, 2016) furnishes a series of journalistically rendered vignettes meant to capture the essence of that legal milieu. Much of the work is devoted to larger-than-life legal figures: William “Big Bill” Howe, for instance, was a cinematically dramatic defense lawyer known for his courtroom histrionics; he kept reporters on the payroll to advertise his triumphs and was among the first to rely upon a client’s claim of insanity as a defense. William Travers Jerome, known as “The Reformer,” was a prosecutor who made his reputation sending corrupt attorneys to jail. But he was no angel; he once used an affidavit in a case from a crooked lawyer he’d once prosecuted for suborning perjured affidavits. Over the course of two chapters, the author follows the case of Ameer Ben Ali, nicknamed “Frenchy,” who was tried and convicted for the murder of a woman in 1891. The prosecution was particularly devious and suggested that Ali might also be London’s Jack the Ripper, but he was eventually pardoned. Underwood is a masterful researcher, and he combs diligently through newspapers and trial transcripts to reconstruct these historical snapshots. He meticulously describes a judicial cosmos that’s largely unfamiliar now—one without Miranda warnings or scientifically sophisticated forensic tools. Trials instead relied heavily on eyewitness testimony and lawyerly skill, which generated unequal outcomes: “Because crime science was in its infancy, the guilty actually had a shot at acquittal with the right lawyer; but the innocent were often at the mercy of unscrupulous prosecutors, corrupt police, and hanging judges.”

An accessible, marvelously rigorous account of a bygone legal era.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945049-01-9

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Shadelandhouse Modern Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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