By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
By Bill James (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, softcover, 482 pages)
All of us have an inquisitive streak and while extracting the details surrounding controversial murder cases may alleviate our curiosity, is popular crime destructive or constructive?
Bill James says it’s well known that “serious crimes result from behaviors that are not criminal” and makes a remarkable connection to human nature.
There has been a frenzy surrounding the Boston Strangler, the Manson murders, Black Dahlia case, the Zodiac Killer and the slaughter of JonBenet Ramsay.
These and other killings are featured in this astounding register of the history of American crime that has resulted in speculation and a flurry of interest about human beings.
Many of us may not want to know about the gruesome murder details, but James declares that these crime stories are important in understanding our culture, history and society.
Subtitled Slaughter, Sensation and Serial Killers: An American Criminal Odyssey this book calls on society to think more about these issues, not less. Sure there are “inherent problems with popular crime stories, there is an ugliness to them, there are victims of the process, problems in the judicial system and distortions of resources”.
This subject ensconces our society so completely that we almost forget about it.
Examined are ways in which society has changed by probing the growth of how crimes are committed, investigated and prosecuted.
The compilation takes on such issues as our perceptions of violence, the introduction of evidence such as DNA and fingerprinting, the controversial use of the death penalty, the rise of an organised police force and the unexpected ways in which the most shocking crimes have shaped the criminal justice system.
He still believes that: “Each crime is a clue to human nature – and not always a gloomy one”.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.