April 07, 2020

#BookReview: The Kidnap Years by David Stout

Synopsis: The astonishing true history of the kidnapping open-season that terrorized America

The Great Depression was a time of desperation in America--parents struggled to feed their children and unemployment was at a record high. Adding to the lawlessness of the decade, thugs with submachine guns and corrupt law-enforcement officers ran rampant. But amidst this panic, there was one sure-fire way to make money, one used by criminals and resourceful civilians alike: kidnapping.

Jump into this forgotten history with Edgar Award-winning author David Stout as he explores the reports of missing people that inundated newspapers at the time. Learn the horrifying details of these abduction cases, from the methods used and the investigative processes to the personal histories of the culprits and victims. All of this culminates with the most infamous kidnapping in American history, the one that targeted an international celebrity and changed legislation forever: the Lindbergh kidnapping.

The Kidnap Years is a gritty, visceral, thoughtfully reported page-turner that chronicles the sweep of abductions that afflicted all corners of the country as desperate people were pushed to do the unthinkable.


Rating: ★★★★
My Review: This book feels like it was throughly researched to the nines.  I have never read anything about the 1930's Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Case which was stated as being the crime of the century.  I think those who are true crime fanatics will enjoy this one.  For me who has kids this was very scary.  It was chilling and and fascinating all at once. 

"I feel vaguely guilty about having enjoyed The Kidnap Years so much. A lot of blameless people died and a lot of evil people did terrible things, but David Stout writes with so much innocent enthusiasm that his book is addictive. Using the kidnapping of the Lindbergh Baby as a thread running through the years from the late 1920s to the mid-1930s, we are regaled with stories about gangsters, prohibition, early kidnappers and their victims, the formation and development of the F.B.I., and the passing of the Federal Kidnapping Act of 1932. This can't-put-down book reminds us that virtuoso detective work was done long before the discovery of DNA, and that criminals were being "profiled" well before the term to describe it came into common use." - Shelly Reuben, author of The Boys of Sabbath Street and Tabula Rasa

"Blending meticulous research, the personal experiences of a seasoned journalist and a reader-friendly prose style, Dave Stout has produced a terrific book. If anyone has the chops to tackle this grim but compelling subject, it is Stout, an Edgar-award winning novelist, the author of other important true crime books and a longtime editor and reporter for the New York Times whose reporting assignments once required him to witness and a write about a state-sanctioned execution. " - Neal Hirschfeld, author of Detective: The Insipirational Story of the Trailblazing Woman Cop Who Wouldn't Quit

"David Stout's The Kidnap Years is a great read and great history–a rollicking, often nail-biting chronicle of the wave of kidnappings that overwhelmed law-enforcement agencies in the Great Depression. New York Times-veteran Stout sheds important new light on the rise of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and on the "Crime of the Century"–the 1932 kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's baby son." - Philip Shenon, New York Times-bestselling author of A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination

"With a page-one eye for detail and trenchant prose, David Stout's The Kidnap Years feels like a Ken Burns documentary about the Depression-era phenomenon of kidnappings ripped from a police detective's whisky-soaked casebook. The spree of often violent abductions victimized the rich and celebrated, turned a few kidnappers into national anti-heroes and helped launch the careers of a generation of crime-fighting lawmen and prosecutors. The stories of these cases are as riveting as they are true." - David Johnston, former New York Times criminal justice reporter and co-author of Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, an American Spy

"A fascinating crime book like no other." - David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

"David Stout combines a newsman's savvy and a writer's touch in recounting a chilling and wrenching era in American history. A must-read for true crime aficionados." - Eric Lichtblau, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author of The Nazis Next Door

"A thrilling account that puts the 1932 Lindbergh baby kidnapping case, billed as "the crime of the century," in the context of the thousands of other kidnappings that occurred in the U.S. during the Prohibition and Depression eras... will enthrall true crime fans." - Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

"In this extensively researched and smartly focused true-crime compendium, award-winning Stout delves into the who, what, when, where, and how, if not necessarily the why, of this most frightening and exploitative of ordeals." - Booklist

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