- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder That Shook the Nation MP3 CD – Audiobook, 18 Feb 2014
|New from||Used from|
|MP3 CD, Audiobook, 18 Feb 2014||
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
'Reads like fiction but it's chillingly real.' The Philadelphia Inquirer.
'Top-drawer true-crime.' Booklist.
'A rich historical tapestry [with] a novelistic sense of character, pacing and suspense.' Publishers Weekly. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
An unputdownable true crime story set firmly in the pulp-fiction and cheap detective-novel obsessed world of 1930s America.--This text refers to the Paperback edition. See all Product description
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
It is written like a novel so that you have to keep reminding yourself that it's true. it is incredibly well researched; as well as the sculptor himself, less important characters like e.g. the father of the murdered girl are fully rounded and brought to life.
To me it's interesting that the 'sculptor' actually had talent - and was supported and encouraged (for a time) by a leading American sculptor of the day. An absolutely fascinating read!!
The very nature of True Crime reporting means that someone is profiting from the unfortunate circumstances of another and that is certainly the case once again with `The Mad Sculptor'. However, there are ways to go about how you portray crimes such as murder and in `Sculptor' Schechter sets a good balance; educational and well informed, but still entertaining. The book centres on the case of Bob Irwin who murdered three people in a New York flat in the 1930s. However, this is a novel that is about more than just this; Schechter investigates; why the case was so popular, the tabloid press of the time and the quality of psychiatrist care.
In the first 50 pages of so of `Sculptor' Schechter explores the background of the case by running over a couple of earlier murders that happened near the same location as Irwin's madness. At this point the book could have fallen into sensationalism as Schechter lists murder after murder after murder. Like the tabloid press of the era, Schechter seems hungry to rattle through sensational cases of the day. However, rather than being the style of the book, this section is justified in creating a sense of place. Why did Irwin capture the American public's imagination so much?
It is the elements that explore US culture that I found the most interesting. The sort of claptrap that the main tabloid press came out with in the 30s would embarrass our modern equivalents, who seem mild in comparison. Irwin played with the press, but so did the lawyers, police, suspects, witnesses and many others. It feels at times that this murder was a game to be talked about over the water cooler, rather than a tragic act that left three people dead.
Once Schechter introduces us to Irwin, the pace of the book begins to slow and more details emerge of what made Irwin the man he became. A distressing childhood and congenital syphilis are only two of the reasons that Irwin was a broken man. Eventually the book becomes an exploration into the attitude to the Insanity Plea in 30s America; will Irwin be executed or sent to an asylum? As a reader you can generate your own opinion of what should have happened to him through Schechter's analysis.
It is this analysis that makes Schechter's book memorable; he has obviously trawled the papers and interviews of the time to back up his writing. However, at no point does Schechter allow the book to slip into academic musing, this is a book to entertain the reader first. At times, Schechter himself is a little lurid, mimicking the tabloid press of the past. With books under his belt with names such as `Bestial', `Depraved' and `Deranged', this is an author who it would seem is not shy to sensationalise murder. This sits a little uneasy with me, but in the case of `The Mad Sculptor' the vast majority of tacky detail is in keeping with the history of the time. Some people may be a little off put by the vivid detail, but this remains a superior slice of non-fiction that entertains and educates in equal measure. Reviewed originally for bookbag.com
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
One thing that makes THE MAD SCULPTOR the cream of the true-crime crop is that author Schechter, a professor of American literature and culture at Queens College in New York, did extensive scholarly research to ensure that the facts of the case are accurate. But it's clear that he didn't just limit himself to researching the details of the murder alone. Schechter researched the historical context surrounding the crime, too, uncovering the bits and pieces that made up the patchwork of American culture at the time. And he also uncovered plenty of information about the secondary players in the case: Irwin's parents, defense lawyer Samuel Leibowitz, psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, and newspapermen Harry Romanoff and John Dienhart, to name just a few. Thus, instead of giving readers the expanded tabloid version offered by most of today's true-crime books, Schechter offers up a riveting story with a richly detailed setting and fully three-dimensional characters. In other words, THE MAD SCULPTOR reads more like a historical novel--but one that is completely factual--instead of a stodgy history book or a stoic fact-by-fact news report.
So, by the time you've finished THE MAD SCULPTOR: THE MANIAC, THE MODEL, AND THE MURDER THAT SHOOK THE NATION, you'll feel like you've actually taken a trip back to Depression-era America. You'll feel you got to know the mad sculptor Robert Irwin and his victims, and you'll have more than an inkling of how the social and cultural environment in which they lived enabled such a crime to occur. You'll also have gotten a glimpse inside the heads of the attorneys, psychiatrists, police officers, judges, newspaper reporters, and the like, and you'll understand why some of them had sympathy for Irwin while others wanted to send him straight to the electric chair. You'll come away feeling like you were an insider in the case rather than a casual spectator, and isn't that what we fans of true crime really want--to see the crime and the players from the inside out so that we can try to make sense of it all? If you answered yes, then you'll definitely want to pick up a copy of Schechter's book.