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The Case Of Mary Bell: A Portrait of a Child Who Murdered by [Sereny, Gitta]
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The Case Of Mary Bell: A Portrait of a Child Who Murdered Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Length: 354 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"Gitta Sereny has worked with disturbed children, and her dignified, compassionate book is a mile away from the usual tawdry accounts of sensational murder trials... The story of Mary Bell in all its terrifying detail is told here with fine lucidity, joined to remarkable charity and understanding." (Julian Symons Washington Post)

"Accurate and scrupulously fair" (T.C.N. Gibbons New Society)

"Gitta Sereny's clear and readable book will help many people to make sense of the story... She also draws out the lessons to be learned both by professional workers, and by society at large." (W.H. Allchin Mind)

Book Description

What kind of child murders another child? First published in 1972, The Case of Mary Bell still stirs controversy today and is a work of extraordinary and compassionate journalism.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1570 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (31 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B9E298W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,585 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Was interesting to read what lead to the event but the book only covers the trial and immediately after.....I would have liked to know what happened to Mary Bell and Norma , what are they doing now?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gitta Sereny wrote a splendid and well researched book about a Nazi war criminal called Franz Stangl of the Treblinka camp and maybe that was her finest work. This book about Mary Bell is good in some ways - I really wanted to know about Mary, especially in the light of what happened to James Bulger decades later. The author quotes much of the source material, which is valuable and interesting and saves us having to obtain our own copies of the trial transcripts, but her own insights are amateurish and pompous. She emphasises regularly how much Mary had been abused by her mother but doesn't go into much detail in this book - she includes it in her later book about Mary Bell, Cries Unheard. None of Ms Sereny's insights goes anywhere close to explaining how little Mary developed the impulse to strangle little children. One thing that I did notice - she mentions that whilst in juvenile detention she accused a member of staff of sexually assaulting her, and he was put on trial and acquitted. Sereny tells us that nobody should have believed manipulative Mary Bell and that the accusation must have been the product of her damaged mind. Plainly Sereny wrote that in an era when children weren't believed. In Cries Unheard, Sereny has done a u-turn after interviewing the adult Mary and has accepted that Mary was being truthful. Perhaps the book is really about how we ought not to trust child psychologists any more than we should trust lawyers and judges and prison staff, to know how best to deal with a little girl who has committed a horrifying crime and needs to be helped.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
an exceedingly well written book
not for the feint hearted
goes through the court proceedings in immaculate precision
totally and utterly eye opening
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book as a teenager and was keen to read it again last year after watching a tv show about child killers. I'm very interested in the psychology behind such awful situations and the author does a great job looking at Mary Bell from many angles. The addidtion of the Jamie Bulger case adds a good read with even more psychological understanding. It is a good book to read and hard to put down but very difficult in some places. It certainly sticks in your mind for a while ince you have finished the book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written book however it's very scary to see the similarities between Mary & Norma and the boys from Bulger case. It's interesting to see how people determined Mary's guilt because of how she seemed cool and controlled and never showed any emotion and Norma's innocence because she was able to show emotion. I once read with the Bulger case the police always believed Robert Thompson was the more evil of the two however it was Jon Venables to has since re-offended. In my opinion I dont believe Mary acted alone and it was only that Norma was FIRST to come forward assured her innocence. Could it be Norma was the one who was more cool and controlled.
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Format: Paperback
Gitta Sereny's study is split into two halves - a blow-by-blow account of the trial, and an analysis of the familial background and social circumstances of Mary Bell's life as well as her detention after her conviction of manslaughter on two counts, due to diminished responsiblity.
Essentially, Mary Bell murdered two small boys at the age of eleven in 1968, and in the second case the boy was evidently throttled, before having the initial "M" carved into his stomach after death with a razor blade, and his face sprinkled with flowers. What is most remarkable and distressing is the extent to which Mary sought attention and boasted of her crimes in notes she and her cohort, Norma Bell (no relation, acquitted of charges of murder and manslaughter), left in a nursery which they broke into, and displayed aberrant and classically psychopathic behaviour after the incident.
What is essential is that this case study is approached with an open mind, for it is a liberal social study which lays much of the blame of society for the "cries unheard", the title of the follow-up to this study. It is fair and humane, as well as perceptive and informative. As Sereny herself would say, it is compassionate without being sentimental.
An essential read for those troubled or concerned by child psychopaths and the reform of the social security and welfare system in the U.K..
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Format: Paperback
I grew up in Newcastle, the city where Mary Bell committed her crimes, in the 1980s and as such was always aware of this case and the "folklore" built up around it in a city that won't forget these awful crimes. As such I was very kean to read "The Case of Mary Bell" to understand more of the truth behind the case and perhaps gain some insight as to how on earth an 11 year old girl comes to murder two innocent little boys. The book has not disappointed me at all.
Sereny has produces a fascinating account of the case. She is an excellent writer and as a consequence the book is very readable and her theories clear and easy to follow. Sereny was present throughout Mary's trial and subsequently visited Mary in her detention centre. She has also talked to the the vast majority of the parties involved in the case, from the police to the families of both perpetrator and victims. Her research was clearly very thorough, her presentation of events is clear and it would seem very accurate.
Sereny's examination of Mary's character and possible motivations is fascinating and she does not attempt to either condemn her as evil or diminish her responsibility for her crimes. Her opinions on Mary and her co-defendent Norma Bell (no relation to Mary) are interesting, well argued and fair. The examination of the relationship between Mary and Norma was in my opinion particularly interesting as it was key to the case. It was fascinating to read how such a young child could so manipulate an older girl and indeed the adults around her for her own ends. At the time this book was originally written, the 1970s, not much was really known about Mary's background, but Sereny has gathered as much information as she could and produces some good reasoning on what made Mary kill as a result.
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