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The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  641 ratings  ·  128 reviews
The sexually violent murder of twenty-one-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on the night of November 1, 2007, became an international sensation when one of Kercher’s housemates, twenty-year-old Seattle native Amanda Knox, as well as her Italian boyfriend and a troubled local man Knox said she “vaguely” knew, was arrested and charged with the murd ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,228)
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Matt
I am utterly fascinated frighteningly obsessed interested to a normal degree about true crime. Accordingly, I am an avid watcher of Dateline and 48 Hours and any other show that spends an hour in the dark heart of man. Being a criminal defense attorney, I suppose I could chalk it up to curiosity. But that would be a lie. In truth, I have a fever, and the only cure is more Keith Morrison.

I’ve been following the Amanda Knox murder trial for years, now. I first saw it on a primetime special, when
...more
SenoraG
I think I am in the minority with my feelings on this book. I did not love this book. I knew next to nothing about Amanda Knox and the horrible crime that she was found guilty of. Normally when you read a true crime book you learn so much more about the crime and the people involved. I did not find that to be the case with this book. I finished it not knowing anymore than I did when I started it.

The author did a lot of research and the book is filled with information but for me, it seemed like u
...more
Alicia
This book should have been about 125 pages instead of over 300! I'm not happy with the detailed backround history of every policeman, judge, witnesses etc. as well as the total history of Italy. The timeline and revealing of the actual murder doesnt even happen until page 175 but I was already invested that far so I had to keep going.

The difference in handling legal matters in the US compared to Italy is appaling at best. The fact that they originally convicted Amanda purely on heresay, and the
...more
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
A compelling, riveting read.

Burleigh took her time to research and explain the cultural / historical context that both Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox came to meet during their study abroad experiences; which was incredibly helpful in terms of understanding how sexuality, college life, grief, etc could be (mis)construed by the different nationalities involved. It was chilling to imagine the dark side of getting "lost in translation", and, ultimately terribly sad to accept that what actually ha
...more
Pam Camel
This book is not what I expected. I expected it to be about Amanda and the trial. It is so much more. Yes the book discusses Amanda and some of the things she went through before the trial. Just a few things were said about the actual trial. Most people followed it while it was happening so you probably do not need the play by play of the trial.
This instead is a look at all the players in the case. The Judge,Amanda, Raffelle, Rudy, Meridith, the roommates, the Magistrate who serves as prosecutor
...more
Clint
I admit it. Until I read this book, I thought this girl was guilty. After reading this a an a full supporter of Amanda Knox. For one reason, Italy was set against her and she was arraigned again (and found guilty again) even though her appeal overturned the first ruling. This is about being in the wrong place at the wrong time--namely Italy during a murder case. It is well written, thoroughly researched, and sets the tone of what Amanda Knox is really like--an awkward college girl with social mi ...more
Erika
I had high hopes for this book, which sadly didn't materialize. Although I enjoyed the writing, and I am generally in favour of indepth character studies and background information, I have to agree with other reviewers on here, there is such a thing as too much information, especially when it leaves you not really knowing all that much in the end. One gets to know Amanda Knox, at least on some level, but who was Meredith? What was their relationship like? There are allusions to quarrels between ...more
University of Chicago Magazine
Nina Burleigh, AM'87
Author

"Foxy Knoxy,” the Italian and British media call her. Voted the 2009 Woman of the Year in an Italian television-news poll, Amanda Knox, then a 22-year-old University of Washington undergrad on a year abroad in Perugia, was also labeled a “luciferina” and a “dirty-minded she-devil” by a Perugian prosecutor, in his closing statements during her trial for the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Convicted in December 2009, Knox was sentenced to 26 years in pri
...more
Allegra
This book is not a flimsy true crime book, the kind that relies on rumor and previously published work. Burleigh did some serious research--historical, social, personal, forensic, and geographic. She provides immense background on all the major players and places, while also keeping a compelling narrative pace. This reads like a novel whose ending I unfortunately already know.
Amanda, Raffaele, Meredith, Rudy, and Mignini are all fully formed, cast as real people with real motives and life stori
...more
Hortense
I had hesitated to read this. Being and even other more minor but equally trumped up questions seemed to require better notice. But this happened to involve the girl in my back yard. She was an existentialist's nightmare about a daytime drama. And she would put reason to sleep with her sharp guttery eyes. Existentialism is to be damned and she was in crisis mode. I learned from this pretty shitty book that she made choices, sure enough. Man, that girl made some fatalistic gestures at the wild co ...more
Amaya
I loved the detail, the inmersion in the case, the depiction of the involved. Very well researched, and proofs Amanda is innocent.
Janis Gilbert
The sexually violent murder of twenty-one-year-old British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy, on the night of November 1, 2007, became an international sensation when one of Kercher’s housemates, twenty-year-old Seattle native Amanda Knox, as well as her Italian boyfriend and a troubled local man Knox said she “vaguely” knew, was arrested and charged with the murder. The Fatal Gift of Beauty is award-winning author and journalist Nina Burleigh’s mesmerizing literary investigation of the ...more
Sheila
I admit it. Until I read this book, I thought this girl was guilty. For one reason, Italy was set against her and she was arraigned again (and found guilty again) even though her appeal overturned the first ruling. This is about being in the wrong place at the wrong time--namely Italy during a murder case. It is well written, thoroughly researched, and sets the tone of what Amanda Knox is really like--an awkward college girl with social mishaps mixed with too much dope. At times I felt the autho ...more
Lori McLellan
This book should be read as a cautionary lesson to all parents and their young adult children who are about to venture abroad by themselves, either for pleasure, work, or schooling. No matter how savvy, mature and worldly they may seem, one needs to be aware of each visiting countries cultural sensitives, laws and ideologies. Perhaps if Amanda Knox had been more aware, things may not have escalated as they did, mostly without her even knowing it.

It seems that the Italian prosecutors and judges
...more
Tom Johnson
Nina's book is more about what JUSTICE is and isn't than an in depth look at those who were involved or trapped in the events - having said that I feel Nina did a superb job in presenting the personhood of Amanda - more to the point how Amanda's individuality sunk her ever deeper into the prejudices of the Italian justice system - and no, I don't believe for even one moment that our own fractured partisan judicial system is one whit better - this book strikes a more universal tone - Umbria serve ...more
Hope
I have such mixed feelings about this book. More conjecture and speculation than fact--it's clear that Burleigh did a lot of research, but like several other reviewers, I feel it's not used well. She interviewed Knox's high school and college classmates, for example, but she is preoccupied with invented-sounding Seattle class issues and bizarre claims about how Knox must've felt 'poor' and emotionally wrecked by her parents' divorce but hidden it. Burleigh makes similarly lurid claims about Ital ...more
Leila Cohan-Miccio
It's total coincidence that I read this as the Amanda Knox appeal was being decided, but it was a neat tie-in. Obviously, people are falsely accused of crimes every day, only a small minority of whom are pretty white college girls, but the Knox case is still wholly terrifying - this idea that people have just decided that you committed a crime despite the lack of any real evidence to the contrary.

Burleigh overstates her case somewhat - there's probably about 10% too much talk about how much Ama
...more
dianne budd
Feel free to mock me for spending time reading this. It's just that this cutie has been re-convicted (last week??) and i had no clue what the conviction was about. The book? scattered, full of extraneous crap - really in need of a good editor. Wish there was a 1.5 star option, but one star is reserved for those i couldn't finish, and i read this... (forgive me, Mother).
Susan
I will review this more when I o to my own blog but this is one of the very books, that A) I skipped through some of and B) I gave up on. First, I skipped parts because if I wanted to read a book on the COMPLETE history of the town, or the formation of the Freemasons or any other of the many side roads this author took I would get a book ON that subject. Ultimately I stopped reading when I came to the realization that not only is it nearly impossible to find accurate information about this case ...more
Mia
I am tempted to blame myself for not being a careful enough reader to really get a lot out of this book. I was on vacation, and didn't feel like taking notes. Maybe I need for things to be stated a little more directly-- was Amanda Knox involved in the murder of her housemate? After reading the book, I have no idea. Seems like Burleigh goes round and round saying this bit of evidence was fabricated and that bit was just plain wrong. . . but why did Knox lie repeatedly about the events of the eve ...more
Judy
In mystery novels, the author frequently throws her protagonist into a completely foreign or alien situation wherein she must not only solve the crime but also figure out the rules of the game, which seem to be in constant flux.

Much as in fiction, Amanda Knox, a young woman trying to figure out who she was and where she belonged in the world, struck out from her home base in Seattle to seek her fortune via a college year abroad in Perugia, Italy. Within weeks, one of her housemates, Meredith Ker
...more
Lauren
If you want a book that's just within the true crime genre this book may not be for you. It's a well researched journalistic endeavor about many facets of Meredith Kercher murder. It isn't just about Amanda Knox, which I really enjoyed, as I have read other books about the murder and it seems like Rudy Guede, the man admittedly in the apartment and the obvious killer, has been ignored. Burleigh's book doesn't ignore him, and seems like an honest attempt to fill in gaps of this crime. I appreciat ...more
Kali
from kalireads.com:

Falling into the rabbit hole of media spectacle swirled with true crime drama that creates the Amanda Knox story is easy. Like Dorothy being swept up from Kansas and crashing down into Oz, Knox seems caught in a perfect storm of good looks and incomprehensible behavior that, when thrown to overzealous and conspiracy-seeking police and press, can be just as inescapable as any fairy tale.

I read Knox’s own memoir, Waiting to Be Heard, shortly after it was released in April of las
...more
Majanka
Book Review originally published here: http://www.iheartreading.net/mini-rev...

The book lacks depth, and details. I’m not the primary source on the murder Amanda Knox was charged with, but I knew some details – apparently so many that I didn’t learn anything new while reading. Well, I might’ve learned one or two things, but definitely not more. It doesn’t follow chronological order either, and the writing tries too hard to be literary, which doesn’t suit the genre, and overcomplicates the entire
...more
Anne Putnam
There are numerous typos in the book (likely not so noticeable to someone who's not a copy editor!) and it could stand to be about a hundred pages shorter – I drifted in and out of interest – but overall it seems well researched and it's well written. The author is a bit too enamored of Italy for my taste, often describing the country and its culture through rose-tinted glasses, and she's clearly in the Knox camp, which I'm inclined to believe is on the side of truth but the book doesn't exactly ...more
Elizabeth B
I have not read other books on this trial so I can’t fairly compare this book to those previously published. I can, however, offer my review of this as a standalone title. From the beginning, the author paints the idyllic with lyric prose and then quickly gets to the brutality of the murder. This balance between beauty and violence seems to be the running theme throughout the entire book. For those that have trouble reading non-fiction and stick to novels, this would be a good book to get your f ...more
Brigitte

I'm not a super avid reader of true crime, but I went through a period where I read all the "classics". Most of those stories revolve around one of two things: a strange and interesting crime or a strange and interesting killer. This story has neither, which may be why some people found it disappointing.

If you know anything about the case, you know that Amanda Knox is almost certainly not guilty. This was a brutal, albeit straightforward crime, and it makes absolutely no logical sense that she
...more
Amy Raffensperger
I followed the Amanda Knox case with great interest, and didn't buy the notion put out there in the US media that she was an "innocent abroad" victimized by a foreign justice system. Having had enough of my own college roommate drama to fill my own book, I could understand how such conflict could escalate, and rich, white girls who benefit from a social bias can be pretty wretched.

Thus I started this book with the bias that Amanda Knox was guilty, despite having a savvy media pr machine at her
...more
Chris Ross
I am going to quote a few passages from this book before I write my own comments and opinions. 1) "Taken together, the writings confirmed one thing only: the girl's absence of gravitas. Was she simply, as her Seattle friends and family always insisted, trustful, naive to an almost otherworldly level? Or was she, as those who assumed she killed Meredith believe, masking evil behind a screen of pink hearts and flowers?" This is one of the central questions that one has to answer. Let's not forget ...more
Barbara
I am a great fan of non-fiction true crime thus I was eager to read this since the accused Amanda Knox is currently in the news as her case is being reviewed by the Italian courts. Knox is a Seattle native, a junior at Univ of Wash who decides to take her junior year in Florence. She is barely settled in the town of Perugia with three female roomates in an old stone cottage, enrolls in the University for Foreigners and quickly gets caught up in the night life. Within weeks she has a boyfriend an ...more
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Nina is an award-winning author and journalist. She has written four books and has been published in the New Yorker, Time, New York and People, among many other journals and rags. She has occasionally shellacked her hair for television, including Good Morning America, Nightline, and various programs on CNN and C-Span, as well as flogged books on NPR and countless radio outlets.

The daughter of auth
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“Italians are compassionate people who love children and care for their poor and infirm. They watched the televised drowning of New Orleans in the fall of 2005 with horror and disgust. Most Europeans already have strong notions of American racism, implanted by years of televised imagery of police brutality, dogs set on civil rights marchers, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the ugly fact of slavery at the nation’s core. As they watched the waters rise around the Louisiana Superdome, Italians’ native compassion was offended by the United States’ disregard for its poorest.” 0 likes
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