Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review - Forty Whacks by David Kent

  • Hardcover: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Yankee Books; First Edition edition (September 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0899093515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899093512
We all know the rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
But we also know that Lizzie was acquitted by a jury of her peers.  Many books have been written on the subject and most have decided opinions on whether she did it or not.
What I liked about this book, is the author really tried to sort through all the glaring yellow-journalism, the rumors and innuendos and the downright lies that we think are truth.  And I think he did a great job of it.
It is also an interesting portrait into the legal system of the time.  Both the prosecution and defense agreed in advance that no men under middle age would sit on the jury.  Imagine that today in the days of the ACLU.
The bottom line is, the prosecution didnt prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt IMHO and therefore the vedict was a good one.  Whether she did it or not -- I just don't know.  There are ceratinly oddities in her story.  The time factor makes it hard to fathom and the true murder weapon wasnt found (one of the most interesting things I found in this book). Where could she have disposed of it?
The parents seemed horrible.  The father was worth a half million dollars and wouldn't even have indoor plumbing.  And they ate leftover mutton for a couple days so as not to waste.  That had been sitting out overnight in the HOT summer.  No wonder they were all sick.
Anyway - the myth lives on, kids still skip rope to the jingle and we will likely never know for sure but that is why it continues to fascinate us.

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