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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

4.1 out of 5 stars 39 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
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #33,858 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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 read another book which commented and took pieces from this book and wanted to know more about the life of a little girl that led her to murder, so sad, gives and indept insight into her trial and life growing up, can be very upsetting but a great book.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very interesting book - I was only young myself when this all happened, but remember it well.
This book is written in a way that anyone can understand. The book is about Mary and why she did what she did. Why do children kill other children. Its wrong we all know that, the author Gitta Sereny worked with disturbed children and tries to understand and explain why this sort of thing happens. Such a sad book, no one really knows why Mary did what she did, and if she was alone when it happened. The fact is at the end of the day Mary Bell was a child murderer. Read the book and see if you can answer any questions that are always being asked. WHY !
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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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