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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
This is one of the best books on crime - non-fiction or otherwise - that I've ever read....and bejesus I've read a few. A superb personal glance back at those awful events has now been added to what was already a thorough, fascinating and well-pitched account. For the judge to have singled out 'horror videos' as a contributing factor was always so simplistic and was...
Published on 21 Mar. 2012 by Ashley Hames

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars quite factual
Very factual book, good insight into the whole story. However writing style a bit blunt.....analysis at the end quite useful.
Published 18 months ago by sk


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 21 Mar. 2012
By 
Ashley Hames (Napoli) - See all my reviews
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This is one of the best books on crime - non-fiction or otherwise - that I've ever read....and bejesus I've read a few. A superb personal glance back at those awful events has now been added to what was already a thorough, fascinating and well-pitched account. For the judge to have singled out 'horror videos' as a contributing factor was always so simplistic and was snatched upon by a lazy media. If we didn't see it already, David James Smith illustrates that there was so much more. This book is a must for anyone who is fascinated not by 'evil' but by human beings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't shy away from the hard questions, 4 July 2013
By 
Mr. S. A. Brown "yentilsale1" (Kilmarnock, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sleep of Reason: The James Bulger Case (Paperback)
I was in two minds about buying this book. I was interested in the case, but given the hysteria that still surrounds it I was worried it might shy away from asking some of the most important questions - particularly about how we should view child murderers.

The book certainly doesn't go as far as to defend Venables and Thompson (thankfully), but it does raise the important question of why our attitudes about the vulnerability of children seem to be discarded if they commit a dreadful crime. I was reminded of a recent case in which a 15 year old girl eloped with her high school teacher and the general media consensus was that she was a victim who had been groomed by an adult and couldn't be held accountable for her behaviour. Yet in the Bulger case the general consensus is that two 10 year olds not only can be held accountable for their behaviour, but should suffer for it throughout the rest of their lives (and I'm not saying they shouldn't, simply that our attitudes seem to be radically different in both situations).

It's a very difficult issue, but I think the book has the right balance between respect for the victim (nothing can excuse what these two boys did) and the notion that a ten year old boy doesn't stop being a ten year old when they commit a murder.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 15 Jan. 2015
I find it deeply disturbing that people can read this book and then still shout EVIL. LOCK THEM UP AND THROW AWAY THE KEY. I come from Kirkby. I lived in Bootle at the time. Close to the Strand. My own daughter was 3 at the time. I remember the first time I saw the grainy images of those children taking James by the hand. I went cold. I feared for them too.
How anyone can not see that their were 3 victims is beyond me. I'm aware children can be brought up in worse situations and not commit such a disgusting attrocity. Human beings are not robots and we don't all react in the same way. Some abused children may abuse others. Some may help others. Some may kill themselves. Some may murder. Some may be depressed.
All I can say is that if those boys had been born to me they would not have done that. On a Friday night they would have been in their pjs watching Friends and having lemonade and sweets because it was Friday. Not running around on a railway line murdering children. Not ever.
They should never have been treated as they were. Adults should never have hammered on that van. It's a mob mentality and I don't know why they feel they can behave that way.
And yes my heart could break for the Bulgers. How could it not. It's unspeakable what happened.
I'm also aware that Jon Venables went on to re offend. As do many people in positions of authority.
Also if people are born evil as some say is that not mental illness. Should that not be understood. There but for the grace of God go i that I was born without mental illness. To loving parents who taught me all the right values in life.
An excellent balanced book that gives a most interesting insight. I never bought this book to read the gory details and cry over them. I bought it to try to understand how 2 10 year olds could commit such a crime. I feel I have a better understanding and thank the author for that.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SAME BOOK, 17 Mar. 2013
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D. Ridngs (UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sleep of Reason: The James Bulger Case (Paperback)
just letting people know this is exactly the same book as FATAL INNOCENCE, by the same Author.
Very informative book including both boys interveiws.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Logical & Non emotional as it was description, 19 July 2013
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If you want a neutral explanation and description of what happened without the one-sided liberal, forgiving or revenge and vindictive bias then this is the book to read.
DJ Smith goes into great detail and remains very sensitive to everyone in the case. This book says it all.
Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, 31 Mar. 2013
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There is so much hatred directed towards these 2 boys and David James Smith does well to remind the reader that there were 3 victims in this case. I remember it well as my Son was the same age as the boys at the time and I watched the media coverage with alarm. What they did was very, very wrong but the author reminds the reader and quite rightly, that these were damaged children out of control and unjustly tried as adults
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A v ery interesting account., 4 Jun. 2013
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The authour provides a detailed and interesting account of a very disturbing incident in recent British history. It is some kind of antidote to the bombardment of media coverage we all experienced at the time. It is not for the faint-hearted but lays bare the facts of the case to open scrutiny by those seeking some kind of understanding and personal closure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 16 Mar. 2013
Nothing new, or sensationalised in this book about the tragedy of James Bulger. For me, the area of the book which could have been further developed was the importance of Venables and Thompson's socially and emotionally impoverished childhood and upbringing. The cycle of physical, emotional and possible sexual abuse keeps forever turning
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46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, 8 Mar. 2004
By A Customer
When i first read this book, it was very unsettling, it is very graphic and details the facts of the case, It gives a clear insite of the boys and James Bulger's lifes. It is upsetting when you read how they killed James Bulger and left his battered body on the railway. A very disturbing, but also well writen book.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, if you are happy to form your own opinion, 2 July 2012
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This review is from: The Sleep of Reason: The James Bulger Case (Paperback)
First off, I bought this book to help get a feel of the case which is vital in my dissertation, and from an academic point at first I was disappointed. This is clearly well researched and is very detailed, but sometimes too much (for example, I didn't care about the family history of police officers involved) and a lot of the detail about the police side of things felt a bit dry. Most of the book was purely narrative detail, with no analysis. However, while originally I saw this as a fault, whilst reading I began to see it as an asset, as this allows the facts of the case (and the boys' lives) to speak for themselves. Without media twists and tabloid headlines, you get an objective account, which you can assess for yourself as you read, and form your own views. The detail provided about the boys reactions throughout the legal process, and especially the summary of the psychologists reports, are revealing and thought-provoking without needing explaining or interpretation.

Smith really comes into his own in the epilogue though, where he gives his perspective of why this happened. The way Smith interprets the boys' lives and feelings makes total sense, and seems like the most probable and realistic accounts - in fact, afterwards I wondered why the question 'why' even needed asking as Smith made it seem so clear. It really reflects the way a 10 year old thinks and sees the world, rather than looking at the boys' actions from an adult view as many people do with this case. Though short,Smith goes far beyond 'they were disturbed' to really consider why these boys went so far, beyond other disturbed children, and how specific elements of their lives may have led to specific actions. As introduction, Smith also sets out research on a number of historical and modern cases where children have killed, which puts this case into far better context than media reports which present it as unique and never before heard of.

If you want analysis, arguments and perspectives, this probably isn't the book for you - there are others out there that giv the writers views and emotional response. I did think a lot of the first half could have been cut to remove some dull police details. But if you want an unbiased account of the facts of the case, an eye-opener, or a sensitive portrayal of two very troubled boys (in parts it made me cry) then I cant recommend this book enough.
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The Sleep of Reason: The James Bulger Case
The Sleep of Reason: The James Bulger Case by David James Smith (Paperback - 15 Sept. 2011)
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