From the Publisher
"[Collins’] exploration of the newspaper world, at the very moment when tabloid values were being born, is revealing but also enormously entertaining….Collins has a clear eye, a good sense of telling detail, and a fine narrative ability." —Wall Street Journal
“Riveting….Collins has mined enough newspaper clippings and other archives to artfully recreate the era, the crime and the newspaper wars it touched off.” —New York Times
"[A] richly detailed book that reads like a novel and yet maintains a strict fidelity to facts. THE MURDER OF THE CENTURY isn't a case of history with a moral. It's simply a fantastic, factual yarn, and a reminder that abhorrent violence is nothing new under the sun." —Oregonian
“A wonderful reminder that we have often been just as we are: fools for spectacle, short of memory, cheered by the invigorating shock of the immoral.” —Willamette Week
"Paul Collins' account of the headless torso murder that led to an all-out newspaper war and then a dramatic trial has all the timeless elements of a great yarna baffling mystery, intriguing suspects, and flawed detectives. It's compelling history that's also great page-turning entertainment." —Howard Blum, author of The Floor of Heaven and American Lightning
“Wonderfully rich in period detail, salacious facts about the case and infectious wonder at the chutzpah and inventiveness displayed by Pulitzer’s and Hearst’s minions. Both a gripping true-crime narrative and an astonishing portrait of fin de siecle yellow journalism.” —Kirkus Reviews
"A dismembered corpse and rival newspapers squabbling for headlines fuel Collins’s intriguing look at the birth of “yellow journalism” in late–19th-century New York. an in-depth account of the exponential growth of lurid news and the public’s (continuing) insatiable appetite for it." —Publishers Weekly
…Paul Collins…artfully recreate[s] the era…[and] delivers a riveting account of what, years later, Walter Winchell would hail as "the first of the great newspaper trials."
The New York Times
James McGrath Morris
Paul Collins engagingly recounts the press's obsessive pursuit of the story, the unlikely alliances that eventually led to the apprehension of the suspects and the trial…[he] has crafted a work that won't disappoint readers in search of a book like Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City.
The Washington Post
In the sticky summer of 1897, New York City was rocked by the discovery of a human torso wrapped in oilcloth floating in the river. A second bundle wrapped in the same fabric was found, then a third. Who was the dead man, and where had his head been dumped? The murder terrified the populace but galvanized the newspaper tabloids. Upstart New York Journal, run by a very young William Randolph Hearst, took on the champion New York World, under Joseph Pulitzer, in a circulation duel to the death. The rival papers sent out investigators, hounded the police, and offered substantial rewards, not in the service of justice but of circulation. The dogged search eventually produced suspects, but how do you get a conviction when you can't even identify the body? Collins (The Book of William: How Shakespeare's First Folio Conquered the World) utilizes newspaper accounts from more than a dozen dailies to bring this tale of sex, murder, and yellow journalism to life. VERDICT This intriguing case, sensational at the time but now long forgotten, will appeal to fans of early 20th-century social history and crime.—Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH