Famous American Crimes and Trials

Famous American Crimes and Trials, vols. 1-4. Edited by Frankie Y. Bailey and Steven Chermak. Westport, Conn: Prager Perspectives, 2004.


In the Reference Room, 1st floor of the East Tower

HV 9950. F36 2004 V1-5


Are you a social scientist? Media specialist? Law student, writer or cultural anthropologist? Consider browsing Famous American Crimes and Trials for insight into 400 years of American criminal “justice.” Beginning with the trials of Puritans Anne Sexton and Mary Dyer and ending with the Unabomber, each crime chronicles a distinct moment in American history.  Each case is grounded in its social and historical background and concludes with notes on its cultural legacy while illuminating the development of the criminal justice system, dominant contemporary legal issues, and popular social concerns.

Mary Dyer being led to execution, 1660.

Most cases chronicled in FACT were historicized by famous trials articulating the anxieties of their era. What does the 1836 death of prostitute Helen Jewett reveal about the contrasts between female emancipation, sexual deportment and tensions between social classes? How did the coverage of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill influence public environmental awareness and the prosecution of “white collar criminals”? How and why were certain narratives like corporate avarice activated while others such as the plight of Alaskan citizens were ignored? What’s the Scopes monkey trial really about? FACT explores these questions while providing good, conscientious crime reading.

Organized into five volumes, each book describes about 14 incidents occurring between 1660 and 2000. Each volume features a unique introduction and includes citations. A table of contents at the beginning of each book outlines the crimes contained therein. As the years pass, smaller amounts of time and thus more crimes are covered in each volume.

Happy sleuthing…