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Crime of the Century: the Lindbergh Kidnapping and the Framing of Richard Hauptmann [Paperback]

Ludovic Henry Kennedy

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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book! 27 April 2000
By Chana Rosenfeld - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of two books that served to convince me that Hauptmann was in fact innocent. I am delighted to see it is back in print, and with a new forward too!
Richard Hauptmann MUST be exonerated. What a shame it could not be done before his wife passed on.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss This One! 28 Dec 2000
By R. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of the best books of its kind in the world. The author does a wonderful job of stitching it together. This goes beyond a page-turner: this book will take over your life. If you are at all interested in the tradition of mock trials fronting mock justice, this is one of the most ridiculous examples to ever hit the American big top.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing . . . disturbing . . . innocent until proven guilty? 12 May 2000
By "lisadiva" - Published on Amazon.com
As an avid fan of true crime, this book was recommended to me by my mother who told me to read "the original true crime book" (originally published as "The Airman and the Carpenter"). She was right! This book was terribly disturbing and really rocked my faith in the American legal system. I had heard stories about the Lindbergh kidnapping and how Hauptmann was NOT the kidnapper, but hearing those tales and reading the book and seeing everything in black and white are two very different things. The facts are astounding . . . people (including the "heroic" Charles Lindbergh) told outright lies and railroaded Hauptmann. His own lawyer basically said Haputmann was guilty and deserved the electric chair . . . NJ Chief of Police Schwarzkopf admitted that he would "do anything" for Lindbergh, including lie! It is a terrible shame how the media and the public crucified this man; he never had a chance. Everyone assumed his guilt from the beginning, and after actually reading fact after fact after fact that was blatantly ignored during the trial . . . it is disturbing and shocking. So much for "innocent until proven guilty" . . . in Hauptmann's case, everyone around him searched for clues that would make him look guilty, and if that meant fabricating evidence against him, then so be it. This book shows the justice system, the media, and the American public in general at its worst. I found myself becoming more and more angry and incensed as I turned each page, as people lied under oath, fabricated evidence, made up stories, and ignored evidence that would have cleared Hauptmann. I felt terrible for him, his wife, and child. I think people inherently believe that if they are innocent, everything will work out for the best and a judge and jury could not possibly believe lies and invented half-truths. An innocent man was put to death for something he obviously did not do. In this day and age, when a jury can find O.J. Simpson "not guilty," I think Bruno Richard Hauptmann should finally be exonerated and have his name cleared.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Argument Against Guilt 22 Mar 2005
By Acute Observer - Published on Amazon.com
Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping and the Framing of Richard Hauptmann, Ludovic Kennedy

The author was in New York in September 1981 and saw a TV show with Anna Hauptmann; after half a century she passionately declared her husband Richard was innocent of the crime. This impressed him enough to pick this subject for his next book. Other books were on miscarriages of justice. Kennedy is against the death penalty (but for euthanasia!?). He used the recently opened case archives in Trenton for this book. The 'Introduction' tells the reader what to expect from this very readable book.

Part One is a short biography of Charles Lindbergh. [It does not tell you that his Congressman father opposed the private banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve System.] Lindbergh's love of practical jokes suggests a flawed personality. Part Two tells of Richard Hauptmann. In the war he learned to do whatever it took to survive. Lawlessness increased after the war. Hauptmann burgled and robbed and was caught and sentenced. His adventures showed quick-witted daring. Hauptmann reported for work at 8 am, March 1, 1932. After work 5 pm he went home, then picked up his wife around 8 pm (p.80). Part Three explains what happened after the baby was kidnapped. Two sets of footprints were found leading from the ladder. The Lindberghs decided to stay over on Tuesday morning, so the kidnappers were either very lucky or had inside knowledge. After a ransom note arrived, $50,000 was given to a man in a Bronx cemetery. Then the body was found near the home. Part Four tells of the continuing investigation, and Hauptmann's life and friends. The Lindberghs lived as happily as possible. One of the ransom money bills led to the capture of Hauptmann.

Part Five notes the methods of the investigation of Hauptmann. Kennedy explains how a witness is prepared to identify a suspect (p.176), and criticizes their methods (p.177). But Hauptmann often lied (p.178). Pages 179-182 explain how the ransom note was forged: Hauptmann was forced to copy the note with its mistakes! There is implausibility in removing a plank from the attic (p.212). The fingerprints on the ransom note and ladder did not match Hauptmann; his shoe size did not match the footprints (pp.213-4). Page 216 tells how they found an eyewitness. Rail 16 was 1/16" thicker than the attic flooring (p.220)! Page 226 explains how evidence disappears when it challenges the prosecution's case. Part Six explains the actions of the Prosecution. Evidence was fabricated (p.242, 244). Defense lawyer Reilly was crooked or crazy (p.242). The trick with the ransom note is on page 276. The study of handwriting is an art, not a science (p.277). A chisel was removed to incriminate Hauptmann (p.295)! The "expert" witnesses impressed the jury. Part Seven tells of the efforts by the Defense lawyers. How could a professional carpenter make such a ramshackle ladder (p.309)? Page 314 tells how Wilentz threatened a defense witness. Rail 16 had "only one nail hole" after the kidnapping (p.317)! The other facts to prove it didn't come from the attic are on page 319. The jury found Hauptmann guilty in the first degree (p.344). Part Eight lists the efforts to overturn the sentence. Hauptmann's lawyers argued against the unreliable testimony of witnesses. The Court of Errors and Appeals affirmed the verdict. Given the evidence, the verdict was correct. Hauptmann "collected the ransom money and was therefore the kidnapper" (p.363). Governor Hoffman was advised that the trial was flawed, and Hauptmann was not guilty (p.366). Hauptmann pointed out the flaws in the case (p.367). The Court of Pardons would not commute his sentence (p.377). The evidence against guilt is on pages 383-384. There was a problem with Rail 16; it didn't fit (p.389)! The 'Epilogue' has the aftermath of the case. Page 409 tells of Lindbergh's gullibility on the German air force; or was it his fascist sympathy?

Kennedy says Hoffman "failed to win re-election as Governor in 1938" (p.408). Governors then were limited to one term of three years (as in most other states). The neighboring county is Warren, not "Warner" (p.241). One important clue in this case was the baby's pajamas; whoever had them took the baby. Where is this mentioned?
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating. 18 Jan 2014
By Tony Lesce - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kennedy's "Crime of the Century" is almost as fascinating as a previous book, "Ten Rillington Place." Both examine cases in which the wrong person was executed for murder. The current book deals with the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping, and shows how "confirmation bias" can lead investigators down the wrong path, ending up in an unjust prosecution and a faulty verdict that sent Richard Hauptman to the electric chair. However, it was jarring to read kennedy's description of Hauptman's car as dark blue on one page and green on the following page.
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