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

FINDING CHANDRA

A TRUE WASHINGTON MURDER MYSTERY

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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Ideal for Chicagoans, both casual and die-hard sports fans, and anyone who wonders, “What happens when you have a dream and...

MONSTERS

THE 1985 CHICAGO BEARS AND THE WILD HEART OF FOOTBALL

A fan’s engaging yet ultimately melancholy love letter to his beloved team and his hometown.

“Pick your team carefully, because your team is your destiny.” Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone contributor Cohen’s father’s solemn advice can be easily understood by sports fans. However, other readers will enjoy this entertaining, if profane, history of the 1985 NFL champion Chicago Bears. That team symbolized Chicago through their fierceness and audacity and by playing a “blitzkrieg” style of football that would certainly be banned today. Throughout, the author provides comical anecdotes about head coach Mike Ditka, a pugnacious tantrum-thrower whose method was “Ready, Fire, Aim.” Ditka’s orneriness mirrored that of “stingy, angry and mean” team owner George “Papa Bear” Halas (a founder of the NFL) and met its match in the defiant quarterback Jim McMahon, who, despite being undersized with a weak throwing arm and a bad eye, played without regard for his body and led his team to a 15-1 record. Cohen’s telling of the Bears’ founding and its tradition of nastiness is by turns devastating, regarding the irreparable harm done to players’ bodies and minds, and moving, as when he explains that Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton was “Chicago as Chicago wanted to be: a fighter…who’s been knocked down but always gets back up.” Cohen thankfully avoids sentimentality and doesn’t bog readers down in lengthy game reports or analyses. The author is at his best in the interviews with 32 retired players and executives who offer their impressions of the Bears’ famed “46” defense, “the most devastating force in football,” and its characters, including the Hit Man, Mongo, the Black & Blues Brothers and, most famously, the Fridge.

Ideal for Chicagoans, both casual and die-hard sports fans, and anyone who wonders, “What happens when you have a dream and that dream comes true?”

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-29868-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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A shocking tale about science and law gone horribly wrong, an almost forgotten case that deserves to be ranked with Dred...

IMBECILES

THE SUPREME COURT, AMERICAN EUGENICS, AND THE STERILIZATION OF CARRIE BUCK

Attorney, journalist, and bestselling author Cohen (Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America, 2009, etc.) revisits an ugly chapter in American history: the 1920s mania for eugenics.

Among “the most brutal aphorisms in American jurisprudence,” Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1927 pronouncement in Buck v. Bell—“Three generations of imbeciles are enough”—marked the high point of a shameful enthusiasm among the social elite for ridding the species of so-called mental defectives. With the nation anxious about changes wrought by unprecedented immigration, industrialization, and urbanization, and with marriage laws ineffective and segregation and warehousing of defectives too expensive and castration too barbaric, eugenics enthusiasts turned to mass sterilization as the solution to prevent the feebleminded from reproducing. The movement attracted its share of crackpots, racists, and conservatives intent on preserving an Anglo-Saxon heritage, but a shocking gallery of the very best people—professionals, intellectuals, feminists, and progressives—formed the vanguard. From this class came the principal players in Carrie Buck’s case: the physician/supervisor of Virginia’s Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded, the drafter of the state’s sterilization law who defended it in the Supreme Court, the national scientific expert who affirmed its utility, and the celebrated justice who upheld its constitutionality. The stories of these four men and that of Carrie herself—a teenage girl neither mentally nor morally deficient, as her caretakers charged, and never informed of the purpose and effect the operation Virginia demanded—form the spine of Cohen’s compelling narrative. Through them, he also tells a larger story of the weak science underlying the eugenics cause and the outrageous betrayal of the defenseless by some of the country’s best minds. Carrie Buck died in 1983. The 8-1 decision, joined by the likes of Chief Justice William Howard Taft and Louis Brandeis, has never been overruled.

A shocking tale about science and law gone horribly wrong, an almost forgotten case that deserves to be ranked with Dred Scott, Plessy, and Korematsu as among the Supreme Court’s worst decisions.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1594204180

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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