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02 December 2013

The Murder of the Century

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age of Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins is a narrative nonfiction look at a grisly murder in 1897 that turned New York City into chaos and allowed a change of guard in the newspaper world.

In June of 1897, parts of a body are found floating in the Hudson followed by other parts from the same body turning up in Harlem. Identifying the body, without its head, became the next order of business. Put together painstakingly due to the science available in that time period, the newspapers (and to less a degree, the police) build a case for no only who the murdered man was, but who killed him.

At the time, the largest circulating newspaper in New York was Joseph Pulitzer's World battled with the new Journal owned by William Randolph Hearst. Hearst went so far as to hire a team of detectives to search for clues. And the murder gave them the canvas to create a new style of journalism - the tabloid. News with more story than fact.

Collins has done extensive research of the time period and collected many sides to the story of the murder of the century. Though I do not usually read true crime novels, this is more of a complex look at our history using the lens of the one murder.

Collins, Paul. (2011). Murder of the Century. New York: Broadway Paperbacks.

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