The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox

The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox

by Nina Burleigh


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

Award-winning author and journalist Nina Burleigh’s mesmerizing literary investigation of the murder of Meredith Kercher, the controversial prosecution, the conviction and twenty-six-year sentence of Amanda Knox, the machinations of Italian justice, and the underground depravity and clash of cultures in one of central Italy’s most beloved cities.

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. 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.

A New York Times bestseller, The Fatal Gift of Beauty is the thoughtful, compelling examination of an enduring mystery, an ancient, storied place, and a disquieting facet of Italian culture: an obsession with female eroticism. By including the real story of Rudy Guede, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307588593
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 07/10/2012
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 634,261
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Nina Burleigh is the author of Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed, and Forgery in the Holy Land, A Very Private Woman: The Life and Unsolved Murder of Presidential Mistress Mary Meyer, and two other books. She has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time and is a contributing editor at Elle. She has resided in France, Italy, and the Middle East and now lives in New York.

Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae xvii

Timeline xxiii

Prologue Mezzanotte 1

Part 1 Etruscan Gate

1 Cronaca Nera 11

2 Slave 17

3 Seattle 25

4 Perugia 35

Part 2 Piazza

5 American Girl 51

6 Roommates 66

7 The Baron 84

8 The Vortex 100

9 Vendemmia 119

10 Hallowtide 131

Part 3 City of Spires

11 Mignini 145

12 Questura 168

13 La Signora del Gioco 212

Part 4 The Ancient Wall

14 The Dream Teams 225

15 Tribunale 240

16 Capanne 280

Epilogue The Three Faces of Amanda Knox 307

Notes on Sources and Methods 319

Acknowledgments 331

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Fatal Gift of Beauty 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great, great book: Some thing just don't add up... If she killed the girl with her boyfriends kitchen knife why bring it back home yet ditch the keys, cell phones, money, etc. And, how did she get it home without getting DNA and blood anywhere on their clothes, purse, etc? Yet, there was blood on the tip of the knife only? Truly impossible. If she did clean the crime scene, how did she remove every single spec of her and her boyfriends dna and or bodily fluids, fingerprints, etc. yet leave all of Guede's DNA, fingerprints, footprints, etc. along with a minute bit of dna on the bra? Astounding. How did either of them not get any of Merediths DNA on them or get their DNA under her fingernails, isn't that the first thing CSI checks? Why didn't Guede flush the toilet if he was there to have a satanic sex orgy with Amanda and her boyfriend? If they had the frame of mind to wipe down the apartment, and remove all DNA, surely they would have checked the toilet... Why go through the trouble, as the prosecutor says, to remove all DNA of themselves with bleach yet leave drops of blood in the sink? Why didn't Amanda or her boyfriend have any unusual scratches or bruises anywhere on them? why would Amanda and her boyfriend go the the police station at all? Why not head straight to the embassy or immediately get a lawyer? His dad was rich, he could have gotten him a great lawyer if he was guilty. Why doesn't the 'murder weapon' match the bloody knife print on the bed? Why didn't the prosecutor want the defense to review the DNA evidence? Facts and opinions aside, this book was very well written and captivating, couln't put it down.
dmarksnewyorkcity More than 1 year ago
Nina Burleigh’s, The Fatal Gift of Beauty-The Trials of Amanda Knox, is a down and our incredible read, and for those of you who have made up your minds about Amanda Knox’s guilt or innocence, you need to bow your heads and plead for mercy, this book is an eye opener. Brilliantly written and researched, Nina takes the reader on a startling ride, guiding and winding us through the interwoven fabric of Amanda’a family, friends, and the complex array of her personal demons, passions and fears. Not so fast, for in addition, this book expounds on the personal lives of all the players, from her lover to her prosecutor, from the demonic Rudy Guede to the tragic victim of a viciously brutal murder, Meredith Kercher-- their vices, their biases and their prejudices, and it all happens under the banner of  a glorious Italian country town, Perugia, where the culture is xenophobic, illustrious and historically rich. It matters not that the verdicts are in, by Italian standards anyway, for this is a yarn unfolding, and The Fatal Gift of Beauty rests in the lap of the curious. Take this book to bed, enter a maze of innocence, sophistication, charm, beauty, evil, intelligence, innuendo and circumstance, and when you come out at the other end of this tunnel, you will rethink your trust in foreign justice and the stability of american pride on foreign soil; you will realize that you never knew Amanda Knox at all. A fabulous read by an enormously gifted writer. 
pococolo More than 1 year ago
This isn't as much about the crime specifically and all it's details as it is about how the players' cultures and backgrounds came together in the aftermath of a horrible tragedy to, in my opinion, put two innocent people in jail for 4 years. It's about the characters involved- who they were, where they came from, mistakes they made, beliefs which shaped interactions and decisions. Such background and appraisal was exactly what I was looking for. The book is well written, detailed but a quick read.
Meg-ABookishAffair More than 1 year ago
I was very excited that I got to read this book. I've been very interested in this particular case. We all know the ending to the story by now but this book was still very interesting nonetheless. This book is still a 'true crime' book but Burleigh really delves into so much more than the crime itself. She looks at Perugia and Italy and the factors in those environments that added to the fervor with which this case was watched from the very beginning. This was interesting in some places but in other places, it was hard to get through because it was just so much information and didn't seem to really be adding to the overall understanding of everything that happened. Still this book did give a little insight into the various players in this murder case, which helped me to better understand some of the possible motives behind what happened with not only the accused but those for and against the accused.
obeythekitty More than 1 year ago
this book is more about Italy than Amanda, the author doesn't attempt to solve the crime, but analyzes how the historical, social and political context of this case determined the outcome.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
309 pages that could have been said in 150 or less. Perhaps the author was being paid by the word. Went into great detail with many pages of writing about items that weren't relevant to the actual case. Not a good read.
Christina Plourd More than 1 year ago
The author goes into a very indepth history of the town, the house, and the characters. Details of the crime and case are lacking. Too many irrelevant facts and quotes
puddinpaws More than 1 year ago
Very good!
Brianne Sandberg More than 1 year ago
Oh and since you cant rate zero stars that one star means zero stars. It was soooooooooo horrible.