Popular Crime by Bill James
Reflections on the Celebration of Violence

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His hefty, 482-page Popular Crime is the fruit of his second obsession, the result of his reading more than a thousand crime books. It will not displace his fame as a baseball guru, but it displays the same talent for argument and analysis.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

The man who revolutionized the way we think about baseball now examines our cultural obsession with murder—delivering a unique, engrossing, brilliant history of tabloid crime in America.

Celebrated writer and contrarian Bill James has voraciously read true crime throughout his life and has been interested in writing a book on the topic for decades. Now, with Popular Crime, James takes readers on an epic journey from Lizzie Borden to the Lindbergh baby, from the Black Dahlia to O. J. Simpson, explaining how crimes have been committed, investigated, prosecuted and written about, and how that has profoundly influenced our culture over the last few centuries— even if we haven’t always taken notice.

Exploring such phenomena as serial murder, the fluctuation of crime rates, the value of evidence, radicalism and crime, prison reform and the hidden ways in which crimes have shaped, or reflected, our society, James chronicles murder and misdeeds from the 1600s to the present day. James pays particular attention to crimes that were sensations during their time but have faded into obscurity, as well as still-famous cases, some that have never been solved, including the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Boston Strangler and JonBenet Ramsey. Satisfyingly sprawling and tremendously entertaining, Popular Crime is a professed amateur’s powerful examination of the incredible impact crime stories have on our society, culture and history.
 

About Bill James

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Bill James has been called "the Elmore Leonard of Britain's underworld" (Kirkus Reviews) and has been named a "Master of Crime" in a mystery roundup by the London Sunday Times, which said, "There is nothing else quite like this series of police procedurals. James is concerned with the dilemmas and difficulties of policing Britain's inner cities, and he addresses these in hard-edged narratives that leave readers gasping and flinching, praying the people in these stories never come to live in their streets." In addition to the Harpur and Iles series, James is the author of other mystery series and a book on Anthony Powell. He lives in Wales.
 
Published May 3, 2011 by Scribner. 514 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Crime. Non-fiction
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National Post arts

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Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Jun 17 2011

His hefty, 482-page Popular Crime is the fruit of his second obsession, the result of his reading more than a thousand crime books. It will not displace his fame as a baseball guru, but it displays the same talent for argument and analysis.

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