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For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Chicago

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  2,341 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Chicago
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Harper
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Like most of you, I’ve spent a fair amount of time plotting the perfect murder. Maybe you’ve just gotten an earful from some nemesis, and you spend the next hour of your life plotting their demise, a demise that would be untraceable to you. Perhaps you pondered the utility of stabbing someone with an icicle (which would then melt away), or smothering someone with a pillow, and then putting a cheeseburger in both their hands (so that it’d look like cardiac arrest). Maybe you’ve thought about putt ...more
Lord Beardsley
Aug 17, 2011 Lord Beardsley rated it did not like it
Shelves: read2011
*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
Nov 23, 2013 Kavita rated it did not like it
Shelves: history, true-crime
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
Sep 09, 2014 Eric_W rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime, legal
I suppose that anyone who has read about the career of Clarence Darrow is familiar with his famous defense of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold. In short, a little Jewish boy (Richard’s cousin!) from a wealthy Chicago family, Bobby Franks, was kidnapped after school and murdered by two intelligent and wealthy college students, both also Jewish. Suspicion initially fell on teachers at the school Bobby attended, the Harvard School, and despite lots of exculpatory evidence several of them were held b ...more
Arnie Harris
Sep 04, 2009 Arnie Harris rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Derek Davis
Jul 06, 2012 Derek Davis rated it really liked it
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,
Michelle Wegner
Nov 24, 2010 Michelle Wegner rated it liked it
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
Jan 13, 2009 Jessie rated it it was ok
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
I lived three blocks from the Franks' family mausoleum and never knew it.... wish I could leash up Buddy and walk over there now.

I suppose in the 20's killing for the sake of killing was a horrifically novel idea then. Perhaps in our time we are numb to the concept.
Kc Chapa
Feb 03, 2015 Kc Chapa rated it liked it
Definitely a detailed look into one of the most infamous cases in Chicago history. This book combined my favorite things...Chicago history, the 20s and a murder mystery. SCORE.
Amelia Osterud
Jan 28, 2017 Amelia Osterud rated it liked it
Only moderately thrilling. Not the author's fault, really, since Leopold and Loeb were pretty not-thrilling guys.
Jan 28, 2013 Marti rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
Prior to reading this, I knew Leopold and Loeb as one of the most sensational crimes of the 1920s. However I did not know much beyond the fact that they killed a young boy and were caught because one of them accidentally dropped a pair of unusual prescription eye-glasses next to the body. Therefore, it was a little surprising that a couple of supposed geniuses could be so stupid. Of course the crime itself may not have been indicative of terribly good judgment; but considering that it had been p ...more
Jan 08, 2013 David rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books
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
Jill Meyer
Sep 11, 2016 Jill Meyer rated it really liked it
Proclaimed "The Crime of the Century" - until sadly superseded by more heinous murders as the 20th century progressed - the "Thrill Killing of Bobby Franks" shocked Chicago and the country in May, 1924. The 14 year old son of wealthy parents was kidnapped and murdered near his home and school on Chicago's South Side. When his murderers were caught, they turned out to be 19 year old boys, from the same social milieu as the victim. When asked why they committed the murder, Richard Loeb and Nathan ...more
Oct 20, 2009 Colleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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
Aaron Million
Jul 01, 2012 Aaron Million rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Bob Schnell
Jan 19, 2015 Bob Schnell rated it really liked it
The story of Leopold and Loeb has often been told in fictional form, including the films "Rope" and "Compulsion". However, the real story hasn't had a complete telling until Simon Baatz' "For the Thrill of It". Although the author tries to tell it in a literary style, the book comes off as more of a Law and Order-style procedural, but that isn't a negative criticism. The attention to detail as well as using direct quotes to act as dialogue make this a compelling read, more of a narrative non-fic ...more
Kenneth Barber
Aug 18, 2015 Kenneth Barber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book details the kidnapping,murder and attempted ransom of 14 year old Bobby Franks in May,1924. The perpetrators were Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Both were rich, spoiled, and above average in intelligence. The crime was done for the thrill and see if they could get away with it. The victim was chosen at random. The author tells the story of their lives, the planning of the crime and its aftermath.
The author developes the society as it existed at the time and puts the crime in context
Jan 13, 2011 Kevin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2010 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
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
Jul 27, 2012 Ellie rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 21, 2008 Carrie rated it really liked it
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
May 23, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it

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
Feb 14, 2017 Eniola rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 18, 2017 Aishuu rated it liked it
Interesting case... the book starts out strong, but peters out as it gets to the trial phase. I think maybe frontloading the book with the correct details of the crime made everything seem monotonous the second/third/fourth time around. I definitely learned a lot about the case. I was reading this concurrently with The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer, and the contrast between how the rich youths were treating against a lower class in ...more
Mar 11, 2015 Kristin rated it liked it
I should have written my review of this book when I had finished it two days ago. My resulting review will now lack the acuity it could have had previously. With that said... I did like the book. It's an interesting account of a murder that took place in the 1920s, committed by two extremely intelligent rich kids that had had all of the advantages, and their trial for murder. I think much of the interest in this case is based on the fact that such people (smart, rich people who can afford a team ...more
Shi Anne
Dec 08, 2013 Shi Anne rated it liked it
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
Oct 05, 2015 Anna rated it really liked it
Simon Baatz wrote the thrill of it to try and understand why some people kill. He also tried to categorize the two type of people in this world. The “ordinary” always follow the rules the “extraordinary” feel as if the laws don’t apply them and they can do what they choose. In the book “For the Thrill of it” two smart and wealthy boys believe that they can get away with anything and love the thrill of doing it. They start with just a robbery, but that is not enough for them. They want to take b ...more
May 19, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Judy by: Jeff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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