• Scoundrel

  • How a Convicted Murderer Persuaded the Women Who Loved Him, the Conservative Establishment, and the Courts to Set Him Free
  • By: Sarah Weinman
  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
  • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $30.79

Buy for $30.79

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

A Recommended Read from: The Los Angeles Times * Town and Country * The Seattle Times * Publishers Weekly * Lit Hub * Crime Reads * Alma

From the author of The Real Lolita and editor of Unspeakable Acts, the astonishing story of a murderer who conned the people around him—including conservative thinker William F. Buckley—into helping set him free

In the 1960s, Edgar Smith, in prison and sentenced to death for the murder of teenager Victoria Zielinski, struck up a correspondence with William F. Buckley, the founder of National Review. Buckley, who refused to believe that a man who supported the neoconservative movement could have committed such a heinous crime, began to advocate not only for Smith’s life to be spared but also for his sentence to be overturned.

So begins a bizarre and tragic tale of mid-century America. Sarah Weinman’s Scoundrel leads us through the twists of fate and fortune that brought Smith to freedom, book deals, fame, and eventually to attempting murder again. In Smith, Weinman has uncovered a psychopath who slipped his way into public acclaim and acceptance before crashing down to earth once again.

From the people Smith deceived—Buckley, the book editor who published his work, friends from back home, and the women who loved him—to Americans who were willing to buy into his lies, Weinman explores who in our world is accorded innocence, and how the public becomes complicit in the stories we tell one another.

Scoundrel shows, with clear eyes and sympathy for all those who entered Smith’s orbit, how and why he was able to manipulate, obfuscate, and make a mockery of both well-meaning people and the American criminal justice system. It tells a forgotten part of American history at the nexus of justice, prison reform, and civil rights, and exposes how one man’s ill-conceived plan to set another man free came at the great expense of Edgar Smith’s victims.

 Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

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

©2022 Sarah Weinman (P)2022 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Scoundrel

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    34
  • 4 Stars
    19
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    39
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    30
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Oozes of privilege

I think the most impressive thing about this book is that the author was able to make a fast paced, compelling story without any really redeeming characters. The subject himself is the title scoundrel, but even more, he was a charlatan, a menace and a pretentious hypocrite. His women were needy and willfully ignorant. And his greatest champion, William F. Buckley Jr., was a world renowned elitist bigot... and this episode doesn't stray from that reputation.

One's eyes can't be averted to the hypocrisy in this story, of race, class and cronyism. A white, middle class man, clearly and demonstrably guilty, can get the support of the paragon of the conservative movement, and by extension his minions, merely for being white, middle class, and possessed of a moderate writing talent. The specious and strained arguments in support of Edgar Smith might possibly be considered valid, if not for the fact that far more legitimate arguments for African-American, Latino and poor white victims of judicial injustice, are dismissed derisively by the same conservatives. Smith readily acknowledges this, in moment of candor. It's not particularly a shock that he lost the support not from evidence, or in fact his admission of guilt, but for the rather churlish reason, that he didn't show sufficient gratitude to Buckley and the women who supported him. Craven bastards, the lot of them.

One surprising part in the story shines a light on yet another example of systemic injustice, which I was shamefully unaware. In his post-release life, the ever manipulative Smith, in order to receive a more favorable result, admitted to kidnapping for rape, rather than kidnapping for robbery. Imagine a justice system that regards rape as a lesser crime than robbery. Add the justice system to the rogue's gallery of shameful characters.

Thoroughly compelling, a page-turner, an all-nighter... choose your adjective. Excellent audiobook.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Story, Thoughtfully Presented

From the moment this book begins, you are caught up in the story of Edgar Smith and his victims. I found this book mesmerizing and honestly could not stop listening.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

5stars but listen at .9speed

Reads a little fast but it’s a really good book. Stick with it and you’ll agree

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Top tier True Crime

Man, get ready to hate THIS guy!
The book is definitely among the best of the genre.