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Publisher's Summary

The Zodiac Killer. The Son of Sam. The Lindbergh kidnapping. Over the past century, certain crimes have captured the imagination of the public, dominating the front pages of newspapers and inspiring armchair investigators for generations. At the heart of these “crimes of the century” is often a burning question: Who did it? Or, if the culprit is known, what was the motivation?

Crime is perennially appealing because it takes us into the dark recesses of the human psyche. Murder forces us to confront our own mortality, and it raises unanswerable questions about human nature, the social contract, and how well we truly know even those closest to us. From a serial killer’s decades-long crime spree to a conspiracy to commit political assassination, murder elicits mystery - and most of us cannot turn away.

Delve into some of the most infamous, ghastly, and mysterious crimes of the last hundred-odd years in Crimes of the Century: A Selective History of Infamy. Taught by Professor Richard B. Spence of the University of Idaho, this enthralling course gives you a dozen case studies of murders most foul. From an intriguing Irish domestic murder to a world-shaking political assassination, this course gives you an inside look at some of the most heinous and maddeningly unknowable crimes in modern history.

Contemporary tabloids may have offered salacious details as the crimes were unfurling, but today we have the beauty of hindsight to analyze the crimes. While many of them remain as mysterious as when they occurred, the historian’s view allows us to situate the homicides in their time and place and can give us insight into both the particulars of the era as well as something universal about human nature.

Whether you are a die-hard true-crime fan, or just interested in compelling stories about gruesome events, Crimes of the Century: A Selective History of Infamy will open your eyes to the dark side of history...and humanity.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2021 The Great Courses (P)2021 The Teaching Company, LLC

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    4 out of 5 stars

Provocative

The narration is exceptionally well done…clear, enthusiastic…varied in rhythm and emphasis.

The information is, for this listener, new and fascinating. These alternative understandings of the murders—alternative in the sense of being completely different, more complex and more compelling than present explanations—are provocative. Whether true or not, they are entertainingly strange, complex, and engaging, even if not thoroughly convincing.

Recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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New cases, New Twists

I thought I knew a lot about some of these cases, but turns out that there are many twists I’d never unraveled. The ones I had barely heard of were so well presented it feels like I now know them well. VERY WELL DONE!!

3 people found this helpful

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Best Great Courses Lecture There Is

I love all the Great Courses but this is my favorite and it's not close

3 people found this helpful

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Definitely not a "Great Course"

Each Great Courses audio series begins with the statement/promise that:
"The Great Courses cover a broad array of university level disciplines... in the best college class rooms in the world...the lecturers are university professors carefully selected... for intellectual distinction and teaching excellence."

However, this one didn't rise to this level. This was more of an example of the based level of "true crime". Of the crimes discussed, a large portion were unsolved and so he told us who he thought did the crime and why. It felt a bit more of an excuse for self aggrandizement rather than a university level discourse on history, criminology or social science.

I expected the discussions to include the historical and/or social ramifications/implications of these "crimes of the century" but, no such discussion took place. To some extent even the selection of the specific crimes discussed were questionable. It seemed like the crimes were selected not for their actual significance in any meaningful sense but merely how much tabloid fodder they generated at the time and their relative infamy to this day.

I'm sorry if this is coming across as over harsh, but as I have quite a strong interest in history, criminology and social science - but, little to no interest in tabloid true crime. This was quite a disappointment and definitely didn't rise to the level of an "university level" course in one of "the best college" classes taught by an instructor of "intellectual distinction and teaching excellence."

2 people found this helpful

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good as an intro but...

This is fine as an introduction to these cases, but there was only one that was new to me. So a good listen for people who haven't looked into the topic of famous crimes, but very little new to those who have familiarity with true crime history.

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meh, don't waste the money

I think a better title would be "my unsubstantiated conjecture". I love true crime! and I liked the foreign cases, but the American cases were not well covered. the author was so focused on his opinion, and all he had was circumstantial suggestions that had little to extremely stretched "evidence"
the narration was good though. I will be returning this book.

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Great listen

Fantastic narrative voice interesting interesting stories written with with a design to interest the reader or listener

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Disappointed

The book was used too often as a platform for the author to present his own views of who and why ( with accompanying reasons/explanations)

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  • Pierrah
  • 08-17-21

enjoyable experience

If you like real crime stories I recommend this book.

I wasn't into was the assaulting storys... Personal preference, but overall loved it.