The Murder of the Century

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars
by Paul Collins
2011/336 pages
narrated by William Dufris / 9:43
Rating: 7.5

I think this book is no less sensationalist than the murder investigation and trial it reports about – either that or the narrator,  Dufris,  presents it that way.   But it was a grisly murder – the victim’s head was chopped off and only the rest of the corpse found – by boys hunting by the river.

In 1897 Herman Guldensuppe, a lower middle class service worker in New York City got caught up in a love triangle and  was murdered by someone – this much was clear.  William Randolf Hearst of the  New York Evening Journal wanted to know who did it –   he wanted to get the scoop and the sales.   Joseph Pulitzer of The World also wanted this story very badly.  And in the Gilded Age era with its “Yellow Journalism,”  the race was on –  the reporters pushed the police to solve the mystery and bring the culprit to trial.

The police did their best – hampered half the time by the press.   The public ate it up,  participated in contests and submitted “clues.”   Augusta Nack,  Guldensuppe’s lover, along with her second boyfriend,  Martin Thorne were the obvious suspects.

Collins has produced an exciting,  page-turning,  “true crime” history of this case. The era is well described as background.   I used to read quite a lot of true crime but haven’t read so much lately.  This won’t get me back into the genre,  but I didn’ t mind the side-trip.

An interview with Collins 

Slate Review 

New York Times Review 

2 Responses to The Murder of the Century

  1. Patricia says:

    Fascinating historical book.


  2. Yes, I very much enjoyed the way Collins provided so much historical information about the era.


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