Pub. Date:
California Snatch Racket: Kidnappings During the Prohibition and Depression Eras

California Snatch Racket: Kidnappings During the Prohibition and Depression Eras

by James R Smith, W Lane Rogers


Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Tuesday, October 26


Bringing a dark and forgotten era into vivid life, this fascinating history explores a booming criminal enterprise that was spawned in California in the 1920s and 1930s. Exposing a spree of kidnappings referred to as the "snatch racket," true accounts of the crimes and the unfortunate victims are revealed. Driven by greed, desperation, or sheer stupidity, this detailed discussion explains that the ransom artists preyed indiscriminately on Hollywood socialites, wealthy heiresses, and even the poor—while each new disappearance brought new headlines and sales to the newspaper companies. Illustrating the manner in which even the simplest capers would often run tragically awry, 15 bizarre and often ironic tales are presented, including how a modern city rose to lynch a pair of kidnappers, the college kids who chose to imitate Leopold and Loeb, and the famed evangelist who faked her own abduction to cover up an affair. Early forensic techniques are described, including the first documented call tracing using a bevy of operators in a phone chain, as well as the birth of the modern symbiotic relationship between the news media and high-profile crime, demonstrating how the sensationalism of personal tragedy became a source for increased media sales.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781884995637
Publisher: Linden Publishing
Publication date: 07/01/2010
Pages: 393
Sales rank: 1,045,367
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

James R. Smith is a California historian and the author of "San Francisco's Lost Landmarks" as well as a number of historical articles. He is a member of the California Historical Society, the San Francisco History Association, the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society, and the Library Fund at the University of California, Berkeley and is active in the preservation and promotion of history and historical lore. He is a frequent lecturer and discussion leader at universities, historical societies, libraries, and bookstores. He lives in San Francisco. W. Lane Rogers is an award-winning historian, a columnist for the" Phoenix" newspaper, and the author of several books, including "Crimes & Misdeeds: Headlines from Arizona's Past" and "Ruthless Acts: The Utah Murders." He lives in Benson, Arizona.

Customer Reviews