For the Thrill of It
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For the Thrill of It

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,387 ratings  ·  154 reviews
It was a crime that shocked the nation: the brutal murder in Chicago in 1924 of a child by two wealthy college students who killed solely for the thrill of the experience. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were intellectuals—too smart, they believed, for the police to catch them. When they were apprehended, state's attorney Robert Crowe was certain that no defense could save...more
ebook, 560 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2008)
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This is one of the most boring true crime books I have read. When I read a book of this sort, I want to know about the crime, the criminals, the victims, and even the way a particular crime resulted in changing the law or society. What I DO NOT want is a biography of the lawyers involved in the trial. What I am not looking for in a book of this sort is a list of cases and personal beliefs of the lawyers. Moreover, what I certainly don’t want is judging these lawyers for doing their job.

This boo...more
Derek Davis
This one deserves at least 6 stars for effort and completeness, about 2 or 3 for the telling. Could anyone make the Leopold-Loeb case boring? Baatz, a history prof, manages it for much of the book.

There's no doubt that this is and will probably remain the definitive study of the case, and it brings out in horrific detail the socially abandoned minds of the killers. In today's terms, they would certainly be called psychopaths, but even within that category they seem unique. Garrulous, confident,...more
Arnie Harris
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Michelle Wegner
This was a super interesting read on many levels. Two boys in their teens committed the "perfect crime" or so they thought. They spent the better part of a year planning to murder someone, long as they could get away with it, just "For the Thrill of It."

On a personal level, I found this book to be fascinating, because the crime happens just blocks away from where my Grandparents and Great Grandparents were living at the time in the 1920's. All of the streets and places discussed in t...more
Lord Beardsley
*Okay this is when I press up my MwyTotal mNyuERD glasses up with my middle finger and let loose a giant rant* I am quite disappointed with this book. I have been fascinated with the Leopold and Loeb case for many years now, and have read a considerable amount on the subject matter to be pretty well-versed in it. That being said, I found some major flaws of the factual kind running throughout this book, which makes me highly doubt the validity of it.

This book is marketed in a very sensationalis...more
This book was pretty disappointing because it provides no real historical context. The jacket and all of the positive reviews refer to the book's backdrop of hedonistic 1920s Chicago, but this is hardly explored. Instead the author (Baatz) chooses to focus on the tiniest details of the case and never gives the reader the bigger picture. While the book disappoints as a history, it also lacks the intrigue endemic to the more sensationalist true crime genre. It's as if Baatz intentionally sucked al...more
One Sentence Summary - The true story of two sociopathic lovers, their murder plot, and how their ensuing trial showcases the legal perception of mental illness during the 1920’s.

Full Review:

In the world of notorious, romantic criminal duos, most of us are likely to recall figures like “Bonnie and Clyde,” but we would be remiss to forget about those infamous clandestine lovers and Jazz Age murders: Nathaniel Leopold and Richard Loeb. Simon Baatz’s novel, For the Thrill of It, provides us with an...more
A masterful, well-researched engrossing book primarily about the murder and sentencing of Leopold and Loeb. While the murder and court case are thoroughly covered (some details like the psychological profiles and tests run a bit too much maybe), I was interested more in the implications of what the public's reaction was to the case. This was alluded to in many spots but never directly addressed in a chapter format (which because of the title I was sort of expecting).

In the age of Court TV and mu...more
An incredibly well researched, meticulous account of the murder, but especially the psych exams and hearing (not trial) of these two teenage murderers. The problem is, it’s a bit too meticulous. Too much detail, whole sections of the hearing transcriptions are here. The psych exam results are especially dry. I can appreciate the historical significance of this book, apparently the only legitimate history there is. But it doesn’t make all that compelling of reading. I’d have liked more context. W...more
Recommended to me by a Goodreads friend (thank you, jv poore!) who saw it listed in a HuffPost article titled, "9 True Crime Books That Will Absolutely Disturb You."

Interesting, though I will admit I got a little bored during the long and (in my opinion) drawn out section dealing with the courtroom testimony. Much was made of Leopold's and Loeb's mental capacity at the time, when psychoanalytic research was still fairly new in and of itself. From the murderers' lack of emotion or empathy, they'r...more
Did not find the author very good and found a couple errors (about Loeb's time at the University of Michigan). I am surprised, also, that Baatz barely ever strayed from the effects on the two murderers themselves -- very little info on the impact on the city, the law, or on the Franks family. It's jarring also how Baatz just suddenly makes a pronouncement, like "Darrow's psychological defense was a failure..." without much evidence. Baatz really painted a negative picture of Clarence Darrow that...more
This was an excellent read, both interesting and detailed, about the real trial of the 20th century. I remember my parents discussing it when Leopold finally gained parole, and the horror of the incident is echoed in the movies, Compulson and Rope.

The emphasis in this telling is the legal and psychiatric backgrounds of the trial and the aftermath, and Baatz manages to make what could be very dry testimony relevant and interesting.

I recommend this book very highly.
fascinating courtroom drama. A book that covers what happens to Leopold and Loeb after their convictions for kidnapping and murder. Started my current interest in Clarence Darrow
This is the best written and most thoroughly researched account of Leopold & Loeb I have read yet.

Baatz is unique in his writings about this Crime of the Century, in that he provides in depth coverage of the killers' lives leading up to the crime in a manner which invokes the reader's empathy for these young men without excusing their crime. Baatz also provides the most detailed account of the alienists' reports and the trial yet, and does a magnificent job of presenting the facts without t...more
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. Here I am, living in Chicago, about to read a book about a sensational murder trial in Chicago during the wild 1920s, and I haven't heard of or seen a single other person reading this book. I started to wonder if this new (to me) author might have mangled the story. I'm happy to say that this book was well written and very enjoyable. It told the story with plenty of detail, but skipped the lengthy asides that some non-fiction writers use to fill pages...more
For the Thrill of It by Simon Baatz, a Kindle book I began reading on December 29th on my way back from moving my mom into a new apartment. Thanks a heap, The Girls of Murder City, you kind of already gave away the ending of this book, but I forgive you.

As the intro to this review and my previous review of The Girls of Murder City, this book was practically screaming to be read, since it dealt in the same era and the same criminal justice system of Chicago. For the Thrill of It takes a multi-dim...more
A solid retelling of the infamous 1924 Leopold and Loeb case where two young men in Chicago kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy just to see if they could get away with the crime. The book covers the crime, the investigation, and the trial. It takes an unnecessarily lengthy detour around the middle to give the biographies of the defense attorney (Clarence Darrow) and the prosecutor. What's most interesting is seeing how different things were handled in 1924 than they would be today. Leopold...more
Maybe it's not fair to criticize a story from history for lacking a unified narrative where all of the pieces fit nicely together. Real life doesn't work that way, and history is ideally the retelling of real life stories. Nevertheless, a lack of unity and overall coherence is what keeps this book, in my mind at least, from being as memorable as it could be.

The story of Leopold and Loeb--wealthy 1920s Chicago scions turned thrill killers based on some sort of Nietzschean superman egotism--is int...more
May 19, 2013 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Judy by: Jeff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aaron Million
Interesting and highly-detailed look at the vicious murder of 14 year-old Bobby Franks by two petulant, rich, amoral teenage boys in 1924 Chicago. Baatz does a solid job of explaining Loeb's and Leopold's backgrounds, their plotting of the murder, and the actual murder. That part of the book was riveting.

Then, it slows down considerably when he devotes a chapter each to defense attorney Clarence Darrow, and Cook County State's Attorney Robert Crowe. I understand why he went into such detail abo...more
James Rada Jr.
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Shi Anne
The authors purpose of For the Thrill of it is having to do with the audience because the book is leading the people to the dark ages. The author wrote the book because he wants the murders to stop all around the world cause there were bad crimes happening in Chicago. The author wrote the book because it has to do with the murders that they were dealing in 1924. The murders started getting violent with kids cause they were getting abused to get whatever they wanted. I can see why the author want...more
Jill Hutchinson
An account of the Leopold and Loeb thrill killing of Bobby Franks in 1924, this book examines not only the killers but also the political environment of Chicago and the attorneys with special focus on Clarence Darrow for the defense.

The author quotes from court transcripts and some recently discovered interviews to weave a fairly complete picture of the trial that enthralled the nation. It was, in fact, not a trial but a penalty phase hearing since the defendants had pled guilty. In popular myth...more
This is one of those books that made me feel bad the whole time I was reading it. The characters are so unsavory, and their crime so horrific, that you wonder why exactly you keep reading. I suppose it is to try to find some understanding about what could cause two wealthy college students to murder a young boy, apparently just for the thrill of the experience. The crime shocked 1924 Chicago and became a judgment on a whole era of lawlessness, self-indulgence and immorality.
Baatz has written a...more
Jenny Cawley
The author wrote this book to tell people the story of Richard Loeb and Nathon Leopold. He expressed every aspect in vivid detail. It is hard to tell what his opinion was on the matter. It seems he only wanted to inform and entertain people with the mystery and murder in the book.

The theme of my book is that there is always two sides to a situation. In the court room the two skilled lawyers battled it out. They had extremely different views, but only one could prevail. The author skillfully wro...more
Wow. I had heard about Leopold & Loeb in passing and wanted to read this because I wanted to really understand what had occurred.

First, the story is a shocking and fascinating presentation of what a pychopath or sociopath truly is. The concepts behind the clear deliberate acts, the true inability of either to feel basic human emotions like empathy, guilt, sympathy, or shame is unbelievably amazing. So is the historical fact that pychology was in its infancy at the time and that certain behav...more
Excellent book all the way around. A history that is both thorough and accessible. I suppose you could argue there was some superfluous information here, but I would disagree. I've heard criticism that every single character has an extensive back story given, no matter how minor the role. Is it really necessary, for example, to explain exactly what the importance of the psychologists employed by both the prosecution and defense? I would argue that it is. It gives a fully rounded picture of exact...more
K.G. White
This book intvestigates how a brutal murder in Chicago in 1924 could be traced back to two upper class, well-educated, and for all intents and purposes potentially brilliant young men. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb decided that they would plan and commit the perfect murder just for kicks.

It goes into interesting detail about their strange childhoods, their dissatisfaction and boredom with school, their secret love affair. Their shark-like defense attorney, Clarence Darrow, who defended his cl...more
Cathy Simonds
I have been fascinated with the Leopold/Loeb case since I saw the movie Compulsion in my teens. Orson Welles was splendid as Clarence Darrow.
This book is a non-fictional examination of the crime, trial, and all the characters involved. Learned much about the relationship of Leopold and Loeb - but still do not understand how two rich young Jewish kids committed a murder for a thrill. The relationship of each of the boys with their respective nannies was quite amazing. Leopold's nanny seduced hi...more

In 1924, the murder of fourteen year-old Bobby Franks caught the attention of the nation. Bobby was lured into a car by his seventeen year-old second cousin, Richard Loeb. Loeb and his friend, Nathan Leopold killed Bobby and dumped his body in a culvert on the Indiana border. It did not take the police long to discover the identities of the killers who readily confessed. What shocked Chicago and the rest of the country was the reason that Bobby needed to be killed.

Nathan Leopold, Richard Loeb, a...more
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