The Fatal Gift of Beauty by Nina Burleigh
The Trials of Amanda Knox

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Synopsis

   The sexually violent murder of twenty-one-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on the night of November 1, 2007, became an international sensation when one of Kercher’s housemates, twenty-year-old Seattle native Amanda Knox, as well as her Italian boyfriend and a troubled local man Knox said she “vaguely” knew, was arrested and charged with the murder. The Fatal Gift of Beauty is award-winning author and journalist Nina Burleigh’s mesmerizing literary investigation of the murder, the controversial prosecution, the conviction and twenty-six-year sentence of Knox, the machinations of Italian justice, and the underground depravity and clash of cultures in one of central -Italy’s most beloved cities.

      When Perugia authorities concluded that the murder was part of a dark, twisted rite—a “sex game”—led by the American with an uncanny resemblance to Perugia’s Madonna, they unleashed a media frenzy from Rome to London to New York and Seattle. The story drew an international cult obsessed with “Foxy Knoxy,” a pretty honor student on a junior year abroad, who either woke up one morning into a nightmare of superstition and misogyny—the dark side of Italy—or participated in something unspeakable.

      The investigation begins in the old stone cottage overlooking bucolic olive groves where Kercher’s body was found in her locked bedroom. It winds through the shadowy, arched alleys of Perugia, a city of art that is also a magnet for tens of thousands of students who frequent its bars, clubs, and drug bazaar on the steps of the Duomo. It climaxes in an up-close account of Italy’s dysfunctional legal system, as the trial slowly unfolds at the town’s Tribunale, and the prosecution’s thunderous final appeal to God before the quivering girl defendant resembles a scene from the Inquisition. 

      To reveal what actually happened on that terrible night after Halloween, Nina Burleigh lived in Perugia, attended the trial, and corresponded with the incarcerated defendants. She also delved deeply into the history, secrets, and customs of Perugia, renowned equally for its Etruscan tunnels, early Christian art, medieval sorcerers, and pagan roots.

      The Fatal Gift of Beauty is a thoughtful, compelling examination of an enduring mystery, an ancient, storied place, and a disquieting facet of Italian culture: an obsession with female eroticism. It is also an acute window into the minds and personalities of the accused killers and of the conservative Italian magistrate striving to make sense of an inexplicable act of evil. But at its core is an indelible portrait of Amanda Knox, the strangely childlike, enigmatic beauty, whose photogenic face became the focal point of international speculation about the shadow side of youth and freedom.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Nina Burleigh

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Nina Burleigh is the author of four books. She is a note Nina Burleigh is the author of four books. She is a noted journalist whose articles have appeared in "Time", the "Wad journalist whose articles have appeared in "Time", the "Washington Post", "New York" magazine, "Elle", and many other shington Post", "New York" magazine, "Elle", and many other publications. She lives in New York City. publications. She lives in New York City.
 
Published August 2, 2011 by Broadway Books. 370 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Burleigh establishes much background information, allowing her to plausibly indict a “labyrinthine judicial bureaucracy lacking any official public face or any rules of transparency.” She notes that in Italy, the police often sue defendants for slander, and “defense witnesses…are not sworn in, an...

Jul 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The...

Publishers Weekly

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The 2007 murder of 22-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, captured the world's attention because of the woman eventually convicted of killing her: 20-year-old Seattle native and fellow student Amanda Knox.

Jul 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The...

City Book Review

“Led every morning into the courtroom by stern women in uniform, judged and found wanting by the females in law enforcement, the press, and a jury of men and women who were hardly her peers…, ‘Bambi’ Knox was like Iphigenia in Perugia, deerlike, sacrificial, an irresistible, maybe necessary scape...

Oct 19 2011 | Read Full Review of The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The...

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