A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, July 9, 2020

TRUE CRIME THURSDAY- The Kidnap Years by David Stout- Feature and Review

The astonishing true history of the kidnapping open-season that terrorized America

The Great Depression was a time of desperation in America--parents struggled to feed their children and unemployment was at a record high. Adding to the lawlessness of the decade, thugs with submachine guns and corrupt law-enforcement officers ran rampant. But amidst this panic, there was one sure-fire way to make money, one used by criminals and resourceful civilians alike: kidnapping.

Jump into this forgotten history with Edgar Award-winning author David Stout as he explores the reports of missing people that inundated newspapers at the time. Learn the horrifying details of these abduction cases, from the methods used and the investigative processes to the personal histories of the culprits and victims. All of this culminates with the most infamous kidnapping in American history, the one that targeted an international celebrity and changed legislation forever: the Lindbergh kidnapping.

The Kidnap Years is a gritty, visceral, thoughtfully reported page-turner that chronicles the sweep of abductions that afflicted all corners of the country as desperate people were pushed to do the unthinkable.



The Kidnap Years: The Astonishing True History of the Forgotten Kidnapping Epidemic That Shook Depression-Era AmericaThe Kidnap Years: The Astonishing True History of the Forgotten Kidnapping Epidemic That Shook Depression-Era America by David Stout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Kidnap Years: The Astonishing True History of the Forgotten Kidnapping Epidemic That Shook Depression-Era America by David Stout is a 2020 Sourcebooks publication.

Back in the 1930’s kidnapping became almost an epidemic. It wasn't just children and babies that fell victim, but adults too.

This book examines these kidnappings, some familiar, some not- and yes, I suppose it is fair to say, this kidnapping rampage has been largely forgotten about. But, at the center of the book is the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping. It was that case that tipped the scales and forced a hardline crackdown. For me though, it was the lesser known cases that made the book interesting, especially since the Lindbergh kidnapping, as well as one or two others mentioned in this book, has been examined ad nauseum, and as far as I could tell there was nothing new about those cases printed here.

There are other famous or infamous people in this book, though, besides the Lindbergh's. The FBI and Hoover’s involvement were also featured prominently at times. The author stayed on topic, and did not veer into personal commentary, for the most part, which was fine by me.

The organization is a little uneven spreading out some cases throughout the book, instead of putting all the information into one or more chapters, running consecutively. This was a little distracting for me, but a minor quibble.

Otherwise, the book reflects the desperation of the thirties, as well as the way money, greed and politics, all bled together to create the perfect climate for the kidnapping crime sprees of the decade.

Anyone who enjoys history or true crime will want to consider giving this book a try.






David Stout (b. 1942) is an accomplished reporter who has been writing mysteries and true crime since the 1980s. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, Stout took a job at the New York Times in 1982. He spent nearly twenty-eight years at the newspaper, as a reporter, editor and rewrite man covering national news and sports, and retired in 2009.

Stout began writing his first novel while working at the Times. Based on the true story of a 1940s double-murder for which fourteen year-old George Stinney was controversially executed, Carolina Skeletons (1988) won Stout an Edgar award for best first novel. After two more well-received mysteries, Night Of The Ice Storm (1991) and The Dog Hermit (1993), Stout turned to writing non-fiction. Night Of The Devil (2003) tells the story of famous convict Thomas Trantino, while The Boy In The Box (2008) is an investigation of one of America’s most famous unsolved murders. Since retiring from the Times, Stout has redoubled his work on his next book.

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