A well-reported, well-written chronicle of a botched criminal investigation and its disturbing aftermath.



Two Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists for the Washington Post document what went wrong during the investigation of the high-profile Chandra Levy case.

Upon her mysterious death in spring 2001, Levy had been serving as an intern at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons just before graduating from college. While visiting Congressional offices with a friend seeking a job, Levy met Gary Condit, an elected representative from California. Levy and Condit, a married man more than twice her age, became involved romantically, and only a few people knew about the relationship. But when Levy disappeared after telling her parents that she would return to their California home just before the college graduation ceremony, those who knew mentioned Condit to D.C. police. What began as a missing-persons case morphed into a criminal investigation with Condit as the lead suspect. Although Condit seemed like a natural suspect, tunnel vision prevented the investigators from considering other credible alternatives. Higham and Horwitz (co-author: Sniper: Inside the Hunt for the Killers Who Terrorized the Nation, 2003) covered the case for the Post in 2001-02 amid the media frenzy. Police never arrested Condit and the case went cold, but the Post reporters kept looking for leads. Almost one year after Levy disappeared, a hiker in Rock Creek Park located Levy's remains in an area supposedly searched previously by law-enforcement officers. That portion of the park had experienced violent attacks on other women by Ingmar Adalid Guandique, a 19-year-old immigrant from El Salvador who eventually ended up in prison for two of the attacks. Some police and prosecutors believed the immigrant had killed Levy in a crime of opportunity. But those in charge continued to focus on Condit, and he lost his Congressional seat in the next election. The case is still not closed—and the publisher promises “new material on recent developments”—but the Post investigation forming the basis of the book strongly suggests that Guandique was the murderer.

A well-reported, well-written chronicle of a botched criminal investigation and its disturbing aftermath.

Pub Date: May 11, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4391-3867-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

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A probing study of a scandal that spread even deeper than the standard histories claim—and one that has plenty of lessons...



If corruption is what you want, put someone with strong ties to the oil industry in the White House.

So we learn from business journalist McCartney (Across the Great Divide: Robert Stuart and the Discovery of the Oregon Trail, 2004, etc.) in this lucid account of the Teapot Dome scandal. At its root was Warren G. Harding, the Ohio senator who was a 40-1 shot to gain the Republican nomination for the presidency for 1920 until he secured the backing of Jake Hamon, Harry F. Sinclair, Edward Doheny and other oil titans. The trade-off was that Hamon was to become secretary of the interior and be given control of the Teapot Dome oil field in Wyoming, “an oil supply potentially worth several hundred million dollars—1920 dollars—a bonanza so rich that it was almost beyond comprehension.” Hamon’s wife shot and killed him before the deal could go through, but before he died Hamon sent a sealed note to Harding with orders to “get some of his friends taken care of.” The oilmen got their way with a longtime New Mexico senator named Albert Fall, hard-drinking and murderous, who had fallen on hard times and seemed in danger of losing his huge ranch holdings. No sooner was Fall installed than his money problems disappeared, the dollars flowing into his bank accounts and those of other prominent Republicans as the oil flowed out of Teapot Dome. By way of thanks, Sinclair gained access to two million barrels of public-domain oil per year, on which Harding signed off in a letter to Fall: “I am confident you have adopted the correct policy and will carry it through in a way altogether to be approved.” Of course, when all this backdoor dealing was exposed, approval was not forthcoming. Sinclair thundered that he was too rich to be jailed. He was wrong, but many others walked.

A probing study of a scandal that spread even deeper than the standard histories claim—and one that has plenty of lessons for today.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6316-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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Provocative, polymathic, pleasurable. (Illustrations throughout)



Entertaining, masterful disquisition on the aims, limitations, design, and methods of historiography.

Gaddis (Military and Naval History/Yale; We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, 1997) adapts the lectures he gave at Oxford while its George Eastman Visiting Professor (2000–01). Employing a wide range of metaphors (from Cleopatra’s nose to Napoleon’s underwear), displaying an extensive knowledge of current thinking in mathematics, physics, and evolutionary biology, alluding frequently to figures as disparate as Lee Harvey Oswald, Gwyneth Paltrow, John Lennon, and John Malkovich, Gaddis guides us on a genial trip into the historical method and the imagination that informs it. He begins by showing the relationship between a cartographer and a historian, asserting that the latter must “interpret the past for the purposes of the present with a view to managing the future.” He also takes us through a set of principles he believes historians must employ and reminds us that the imagination of the historian must always be tethered to reliable sources. He takes on social scientists (especially economists), observing that as they attempt to become more “scientific” (establishing laws, making accurate predictions), they move in the opposite direction of today’s “hard” scientists: “When social scientists are right, they too often confirm the obvious.” Gaddis moves to a discussion of variables (declaring irrelevant the distinction between “independent” and “dependent”: “interdependent,” he says, is the more accurate term), examines chaos theory and explores theories of causation. He ends with an intriguing discussion of the role of the biographer, insisting that historians retain a moral view of events, and with a reminder that they must necessarily distort even as they clarify. Historians, like teachers, he says, both oppress and liberate.

Provocative, polymathic, pleasurable. (Illustrations throughout)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-19-506652-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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