• Who Killed Jane Stanford?

  • A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits and the Birth of a University
  • By: Richard White
  • Narrated by: Christopher P. Brown
  • Length: 11 hrs and 28 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (207 ratings)

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Who Killed Jane Stanford?  By  cover art

Who Killed Jane Stanford?

By: Richard White
Narrated by: Christopher P. Brown
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Publisher's Summary

In 1885, Jane and Leland Stanford cofounded a university to honor their recently deceased young son. After her husband's death in 1893, Jane Stanford, a devoted spiritualist who expected the university to inculcate her values, steered Stanford into eccentricity and public controversy for more than a decade. In 1905 she was murdered in Hawaii, a victim, according to the Honolulu coroner's jury, of strychnine poisoning. With her vast fortune the university's lifeline, the Stanford president and his allies quickly sought to foreclose challenges to her bequests by constructing a story of death by natural causes. The cover-up gained traction in the murky labyrinths of power, wealth, and corruption of Gilded Age San Francisco. The murderer walked.

Deftly sifting the scattered evidence and conflicting stories of suspects and witnesses, Richard White gives us the first full account of Jane Stanford's murder and its cover-up. Against a backdrop of the city's machine politics, rogue policing, tong wars, and heated newspaper rivalries, White's search for the murderer draws us into Jane Stanford's imperious household and the academic enmities of the university. Although Stanford officials claimed that no one could have wanted to murder Jane, we meet several people who had the motives and the opportunity to do so. One of these, we discover, also had the means.

©2022 Richard White (P)2022 Tantor

What listeners say about Who Killed Jane Stanford?

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Jane Stanford Would Rather be Dead than Read This

OMG, it just would not stop! I can't believe I stayed with this till the end, because it was so, so, incredibly bad. I'd read a review that made it seem like an engaging mystery, but it's just not. Moreover, the narrator is just about the worst I've heard. If you're going to read a book about Northern California, you want to learn to pronounce words like "Alameda" (hint: it's not Ala-MAY-da). Such a robotic, nasal voice did not help a story that was only periodically worth the layers and layers of minutia about the founding and early floundering of Stanford that had little to do directly with the death of Jane Stanford.

63 people found this helpful

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A bit Redundant

The book was historically interesting to me but a bit of a nod due to unnecessary redundancy.

19 people found this helpful

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The untold secrets of Stanford

Being born and raised in Palo Alto, pulled me into the story line. I went to Jordan Jr high and off into Paly. Both parents were employed by Stanford so that was my second home.
Stanford walls always left the interest of Leland Jr, and the mystical presence of what Jane Stanford left behind in the museum and buildings.
Reading the detailed facts and open ended conspiracy theories kept me intrigued. Weaving the names such as David Starr Jordan added to mystery.
As a fraud investigator, I loved this book. Kudo’s to the author Mr White!
You won’t be able to put it down!

18 people found this helpful

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More than just Jane Stanford

This is clearly a well researched account of Jane Stanford’s death. It’s also a fascinating story for its setting that includes local California politics, law enforcement, and a look inside the founding of what’s become one of the USA’s stellar universities. The cast of characters around the quixotic Jane Stanford fill out the trappings of the gilded age in the Bay Area. Good read.

12 people found this helpful

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Fascinating historical detective work

Fascinating Gilded Age San Francisco detective work. It was amazing how corrupt the city was at the start of the 20th Century. As a Stanford graduate, the early history of the university was not at all what I was led to believe. Nor were Leland and Jane Stanford. A must read for history buffs and Stanford grads.

11 people found this helpful

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It’s okay

Perhaps if the narrator had not been so robotic it might have been a smoother listen. The story is some what interesting but poorly wrapped up.

10 people found this helpful

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? Demise of Stanford founder

Story was a bit tedious to listen to because so many details were introduced. But, nevertheless, a slice of history that many people have not heard. I recommend it to anyone who attended Stanford the founding of this institution is far more complicated and worth historical note.

9 people found this helpful

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Wonderfully crafted historical mystery

Anyone who enjoys history as well as mystery
This early look into Stanford university and
The gilded age intriguing

6 people found this helpful

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A Bay Area Story

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, this is an excellent historical snapshot. I really enjoyed it.

6 people found this helpful

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Great Story

Enjoyed the book, narrator kept me going, and finished it to the end. A must read

4 people found this helpful