American criminal biographies?
February 25, 2012 11:35 AM   Subscribe

What are some well-written biographies of American criminals?

I'm looking for well-written, thoughtful biographies (as opposed to pulpy quickies) of professional American criminals. A good example would be TJ Stiles biography of Jesse James. I'm not looking for something like In Cold Blood, which while well-written doesn't really fall into the category of biography. I'm looking for books that would be found in the Biography section of the bookstore. (Oh, and full-tilt criminals only please, not dirty politicians or general scumbags).
posted by Bookhouse to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi.
Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Charles Manson trial, and had access to a mountain of background information about Manson and his Family. Bugliosi comes across as a bit of a self-promoter, but his insight and his writing are compelling.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:56 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer was excellent.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:09 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's a few lists of best true crime that might give you some ideas.
posted by jabes at 12:10 PM on February 25, 2012

Best answer: Hal Higdon's Crime of the Century bio of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb is a fascinating, detailed look at the lives of the two young men who kidnapped and killed Bobby Franks before, during and after their crime.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:10 PM on February 25, 2012

Best answer: I read The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief after somebody recommended it on Metafilter before and really liked it.
posted by interplanetjanet at 1:26 PM on February 25, 2012

Best answer: The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno by Ovid DeMaris was great.
posted by jquinby at 2:18 PM on February 25, 2012

Best answer: Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore (brother of Gary) is an excellent companion read to The Executioner's Song.
posted by essexjan at 3:42 PM on February 25, 2012

Best answer: Let Me Take You Down is a great book. It is a biography of Mark Chapman, who guy who killed John Lennon. It is creepy and disturbing look at the life and mind of nut case.
posted by Flood at 6:47 PM on February 25, 2012

The Stranger Beside Me, about Ted Bundy, is great.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:38 PM on February 25, 2012

Killer: A Journal Of Murder, the fascinating tale of Carl "I wish you all had one neck..." Panzram, in his own words.
posted by Scram at 9:51 PM on February 25, 2012

Kathryn Harrison wrote a fine book about a family murder in Oregon called While They Slept.
posted by cgc373 at 10:21 PM on February 25, 2012

You Can't Win by Jack Black is what you want. Enjoy.
posted by ws at 11:51 PM on February 25, 2012

For a fascinating overview of American organized crime in the 20th century I would highly recommend The Mafia Encyclopedia by Carl Sifakis. This book is a compilation of hundreds of short but solid well-researched biographies of various American mobsters, which when read together really gives a vivid sense of the whole interconnected web of their activities.
posted by ovvl at 10:03 AM on February 26, 2012

« Older Mickey Mantle Tattoos   |   aaaahhhhhhh ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.