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Murder Among Friends
Cover of Murder Among Friends
Murder Among Friends
How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime
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How did two teenagers brutally murder an innocent child...and why? And how did their brilliant lawyer save them from the death penalty in 1920s Chicago? Written by a prolific master of narrative...
How did two teenagers brutally murder an innocent child...and why? And how did their brilliant lawyer save them from the death penalty in 1920s Chicago? Written by a prolific master of narrative...
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  • How did two teenagers brutally murder an innocent child...and why? And how did their brilliant lawyer save them from the death penalty in 1920s Chicago? Written by a prolific master of narrative nonfiction, this is a compulsively readable true-crime story based on an event dubbed the "crime of the century."
    In 1924, eighteen-year-old college students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb made a decision: they would commit the perfect crime by kidnapping and murdering a child they both knew. But they made one crucial error: as they were disposing of the body of young Bobby Franks, whom they had bludgeoned to death, Nathan's eyeglasses fell from his jacket pocket.
    Multi-award-winning author Candace Fleming depicts every twist and turn of this harrowing case—how two wealthy, brilliant young men planned and committed what became known as the crime of the century, how they were caught, why they confessed, and how the renowned criminal defense attorney Clarence Darrow enabled them to avoid the death penalty.
    Following on the success of such books as The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh and The Family Romanov, this acclaimed nonfiction writer brings to heart-stopping life one of the most notorious crimes in our country's history.

About the Author-

  • Candace Fleming is the prolific and versatile award-winning author of many books for children and young adults. Her most recent title, The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh, received six starred reviews, was a Kirkus, PW, Booklist, and SLJ Best Book of the Year, and was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as a "fascinating chronicle." Candace's The Family Romanov also received six starred reviews and won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was recognized as a Sibert Nonfiction Honor Book. Amelia Lost received four starred reviews and won the Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction. Her many acclaimed picture books include Giant Squid, a Sibert Honor Book. Visit her on the web at candacefleming.com.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2022
    A comprehensive recounting of a child murder and the resulting landmark trial. On May 21, 1924, 19-year-old Nathan Leopold and 18-year-old Richard Loeb drove through the streets of Kenwood, an affluent, partially Jewish neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, looking for a random child to kill. They considered one of Richard's little brother's friends, but when that boy ran off, they settled on 14-year-old Bobby Franks, one of Richard's cousins, with whom he'd played tennis the day before. Richard wished to prove himself a "master criminal"; Nathan wanted Richard to remain his lover. But despite the general incompetence and corruption of Chicago's police force at that time, the pair were quickly taken into custody and confessed. Though their guilt was unquestionable, their families sought no less an attorney than Clarence Darrow (eminent in his profession though not yet of Scopes Monkey Trial fame), who took the case due to his hatred of the death penalty. Insanity had until then been seen as a binary condition; Darrow, saying "all life is worth saving," argued that it was a continuum that could mitigate without fully denying culpability. Fleming, a master of meticulously researched nonfiction, covers Leopold's and Loeb's troubled childhoods, the horrible crime itself, the odd bond between the newspapers and the police that facilitated a conviction, and Darrow's intelligence and humanity. In the end, however, Leopold and Loeb are so chilling that readers won't celebrate their judicial victory. Erudite, readable, and appalling. (afterword, bibliography, endnotes, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 31, 2022
    In five distinct sections, this gripping, thriller-paced true crime portrait by Fleming (The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh) centers Nathan Leopold (1904–1971) and Richard Loeb (1905–1936), who in May 1924 as University of Chicago students and on-again, off-again lovers targeted and killed Loeb’s 14-year-old second cousin Bobby Franks, in an attempt to commit the “perfect crime.” Beginning with a grisly account of the killing, the page-turning narrative next traces wealthy Leopold and Loeb’s childhoods and early friendship among Chicago’s Jewish elite, the tracking of the killers, the duo’s storied confessions, and the riveting courtroom battle involving attorney Clarence Darrow. Electrifying descriptions of the pivotal trial provide nuanced ethical and legal context around Darrow’s arguments against the death penalty. Fleming employs her usual flair for enlivening history, offering rich layers of information about the time, including the role that anti-Semitism, newspapers, and police corruption played in the case. Though Leopold and Loeb’s crime is difficult to stomach, Fleming crafts an absorbing saga sure to ensnare readers in its thrall. Black-and-white photographs and newspaper reproductions appear throughout, and an afterword and copious back matter reveal the book’s wealth of research. Ages 12–up. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Agency. (Mar.)

  • Booklist

    February 15, 2022
    Grades 8-12 *Starred Review* Acclaimed nonfiction author Fleming (The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh, 2020) brings her usual lucid writing and meticulous research to this account of the lives and notorious crimes of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, as well as the groundbreaking legal defense mounted by Clarence Darrow that saved them from execution. In a propulsive narrative, Fleming begins with the immediate lead-up to the murder they so carefully plotted before digging back into their troubled childhoods, intense friendship, and increasingly violent crimes. She wisely steers clear of sensationalizing the actual murder of Bobby Franks, relying instead on quotes from Leopold and Loeb's own testimonies to describe the event and routinely reminding readers of the emotional fallout of Franks' death on his family and community. The second half of the book focuses primarily on the police investigation and how Darrow built his case, particularly his impassioned belief in the immorality of capital punishment--an argument that ultimately convinced the judge to give each defendant a life sentence. Thoughtful asides about some of the common discriminatory attitudes at the time (homophobia, antisemitism, etc.) offer helpful context. The engrossing true-crime narrative style and high-interest subject will likely make this a very popular pick among teen readers, while the comprehensive look at Darrow's defense strategy gives it lots of heft. Thought-provoking reading sure to spark further conversations about crime and punishment.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from May 1, 2022

    Gr 8 Up-A true crime story from 1924 Chicago in which two college students plan and carry out a kidnapping and murder as a way of demonstrating their superior intelligence. Both from wealthy families, best friends Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb excelled at academics, skipped grades in school, and saw themselves as above the rest of society yet lacked interpersonal skills and compassion. They believed, due to their superior intellect, any crime they planned and committed would be unsolvable, so they decided to carry out the ultimate crime. They plotted for months, kidnapped, and killed a 14-year-old neighbor, then attempted to collect a ransom from the victim's family. Within days of the murder, they were caught and quickly confessed, despite the corrupt and inept Chicago police at the time. The crime quickly gained national attention and was hailed as the crime of the century. Their families hired the renowned lawyer Clarence Darrow, a staunch opponent of the death penalty. Using groundbreaking defense techniques analyzing the mental condition of the young men, Darrow brilliantly fought to save them from the death penalty. Fleming breathlessly accounts the crime, trial, and the public discourse surrounding it. Equally fascinating, she explores the disturbing, psychological life of the murderers, including their unusual upbringings, codependent relationship, and manipulative relationships with the media and prison guards to gain public favor. Includes numerous black-and-white photos and extensive back matter. VERDICT A chilling page-turner with compelling psychoanalytic aspects not often seen in young adult nonfiction. Highly recommended.-Karen T. Bilton

    Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime
Candace Fleming
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