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September 04 , 2008

The Case That Never Dies: The Lindbergh Kidnapping


The Case That Never Diesplaces the Lindbergh kidnapping, investigation, and trial in thecontext of the Depression, when many feared the country was on the edgeof anarchy. Gardner delves deeply into the aspects of the case thatremain confusing to this day, including Lindbergh’s dealings with crimebaron Owney Madden, Al Capone’s New York counterpart, as well as theinexplicable exploits of John Condon, a retired schoolteacher who becamethe prosecution’s best witness. The initial investigation was hamperedby Colonel Lindbergh, who insisted that the police not attempt to findthe perpetrator because he feared the investigation would endanger hisson’s life. He relented only when the child was found dead.

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Aftertwo years of fruitless searching, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a Germanimmigrant, was discovered to have some of the ransom money in hispossession. Hauptmann was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death.Throughout  the book, Gardner pays special attention to the evidence ofthe case and how it was used and misused in the trial. Whether Hauptmannwas guilty or not, Gardner concludes that there was insufficientevidence to convict him of first-degree murder.

Setin historical context, the book offers not only a compelling read, but apowerful vantage point from which to observe the United States in the1930s as well as contemporary arguments over capital punishment.

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