From the Publisher
"Crimes and Trials of the Century offers an excellent starting point for those interested in crime history and the media. It is recommended for both public and private libraries and would serve as a nice supplement for a variety of criminal justice, criminology, and sociology courses."
American Reference Books Annual
"The scholary essays of this guide explore the details of each crime, the legal issues involved, the course of litigation and appeals. The analysis assesses the impact of the media on the case as well as change in laws, criminal justice procedures, and the attitudes of society at large….This excellent survey will provide students of criminal justice, communication, political science and cultural history with a provocative introduction to key issues in criminal prosecution in the United States."
Lawrence Looks at Books
"Appropriate for high school students and above as well as for general readers, this two-volume reference, in a thoughtful, non-sensational manner, presents criminal cases of the past 100 years that have caught the attention of the public for various reasons. Arranged chronologically, the first volume covers the Black Box Scandal of 1920 through the Attica Prison riots of 1971; the second, from Pine Ridge trials in the mid-1970s to Abu Ghraib in the early years of the 21st century. The cases are described in detail with a substantial amount of material illuminating the individuals involved, the social and historical contexts, legal issues, and outcomes. In addition, editors Chermak (criminal justice, Michigan State U.) and Bailey (criminal justice, U. at Albany SUNY) provide a contextual introduction to each of the two volumes. A bibliography and thorough indexing conclude the second volume."
SciTech Book News
"This set certainly provides fascinating reading to laypersons interested in the topic. It would also be useful for assignments; the reading level is appropriate for high school readers and above. Recommended for public libraries or community colleges supporting sociology or criminology programs."
"[T]his set looks closely at 35 particularly newsworthy American crimes….providing considerable detail on key moments along with thought-provoking discussion about their significance. Most entries are chronological, adding historical background as needed and avoiding sensationalizing the drama and suspense, which emerge effectively through the factual narratives. Clear distinctions between evidence, speculation, and consensus opinions provide fairly balanced views throughout….Clear writing, strong organization, and involving subject matter make this a strong resource."
School Library Journal
"This text is strongly suggested for higher-education institutions that have criminal-justice programs. Public libraries and high-school media centers will also find it of use for its easy-to-read descriptions of often sensational events."
Although not immediately apparent from the title, this set covers only crimes and trials of the 20th century that occurred in the United States. Chosen according to their immediate and lasting influences on American culture, the cases are arranged (as stated in the set's introduction) in "rough" chronological order; Volume 1 spans 1900-72, while Volume 2 concludes with 2004's Abu Ghraib scandal. This particular split in time period is not accidental, as editors Chermak (Victims in the News) and Bailey (Out of the Woodpile) believe that the crimes of each period are characterized by recurring themes. The themes of Volume 1 concern the falls of celebrities, national security, notorious gangsters, legal debates, and turbulent social change. Volume 2 collects cases involving protectors of freedom and justice, signifying events, "if it bleeds, it leads," celebrities in the news, and the innocence of children. Each of the 35 cases is given contextual treatment within this identified framework. Each entry begins with a description of the setting in which the event occurred, and sidebars include web resources-such as the O.J. Simpson Poetry Corner-as well as time lines and other fast-fact type information. Black-and-white photos appear throughout, but one wishes for more. References and suggestions for further reading round out each entry. Volume 2 contains the index and a general bibliography as well as information about the editors and contributors. Is the Columbine shooting here? Yes. O.J.? Yes. John Gotti? No. The editors explain that certain content had to be excluded, such as crimes or trials involving presidents (no Lewinsky scandal here), terrorism, and organized crime.However, you will find an entry for Al Capone, the Unabomber, and Timothy McVeigh. The events of 9/11 get mention in Volume 2's introduction.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up -From the Black Sox scandal of 1919 to the investigations of Abu Ghraib through 2006, this set looks closely at 35 particularly newsworthy American crimes. In some cases legal events take on greater significance than the act that initiated them, as in the Scopes Trial, while others, such as "Alphonse Capone," focus more on crimes and detection. Most articles range from 15 to 25 pages, providing considerable detail on key moments along with thought-provoking discussion about their significance. Most entries are chronological, adding historical background as needed and avoiding sensationalizing the drama and suspense, which emerge effectively through the factual narratives. Clear distinctions between evidence, speculation, and consensus opinions provide fairly balanced views throughout. Articles look beyond specific events, stressing the powerful impacts of the media, public perception, and the moods of the times. Political movements, such as the role of the abortion debate in the Scott Peterson case, add further valuable context, and many articles examine the long-term legal and social impacts that the trials may have inspired. Two small black-and-white photos accompany a typical article. Shaded sidebars provide time lines, factoids, and further information, such as a biography of Rodney King in the article related to his case. Clear writing, strong organization, and involving subject matter make this a strong resource. The editors also produced the five-volume Famous American Crimes and Trials (Praeger, 2004), and nearly half of the essays here also appeared in that set, though this one has some added sidebars.-Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR