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Swift Justice: Murder & Vengeance In A California Town
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Swift Justice: Murder & Vengeance In A California Town

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  119 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In 1933, a nightmare shook the quiet town of San Jose, California, when a young man named Brooke Hart was abducted while leaving his father's department store. In the days that followed, the Harts, local and state police, and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI scrambled to outwit the kidnappers, whose demands kept them at bay until they--and Brook Hart's murder--were at last discovered ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 15th 1992 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published March 1st 1992)
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(showing 1-30)
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Katherine Addison
Swift Justice is the dissection of a double-headed atrocity: the kidnapping and horrific murder of Brooke Hart, and the equally horrific lynching of his murderers by the citizens of San Jose. It's compelling, cleanly-written, and even-handed. Farrell offers as many perspectives as he can and is clearly doing his best not to pass judgment on the choices and ambiguous motivations that allowed the lynching to happen.

There isn't really much doubt that Jack Holmes and Harold Thurmond murdered Brooke
Carol N
Mar 06, 2016 Carol N rated it it was amazing
I recently had the unique experience of attending the San Jose’s Tabard Theater’s production of the newly adapted play based on the 1933 lynching of the two men accused of kidnaping and killing Brooke Hart, heir to Harts Department Store. The play was based on this book written by Harry Farrell, a reporter for the San Jose paper - the Mercury News. After having had my interest seduced by this fascinating play, I wanted to read more complex details of this San Jose history. Since this book is cur ...more
Kim Ulmanis
Nov 01, 2012 Kim Ulmanis rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
It has actually been awhile since I read this book but being from San Jose the story has been lodged in my mind for years. Although a tragic story, I enjoyed the way Farrell wrote about the kidnapping and murder from beginning to end. Some of the photos are somewhat graphic in nature but it helps the reader to understand the full effect of what happened to both Brooke and his murderers. It's definitely a must read if you're into true crime and history.
This is true crime and might not be for everybody but this is part of the history of my hometown and I can remember shopping at Hart's department store downtown San Jose as a child. This made me want to go to Oak Hills and put a flower on Brooke Hart's grave.
Aug 19, 2013 Martin rated it really liked it
This should be essential reading for anyone interested in Bay Area history . Lynch law does not confine itself to any one area of the country
May 21, 2017 Lenny rated it it was amazing
Excellent reporting of the killing of Brooke Hart for the purpose of trying to get ransom money from his wealthy family. This attempt failed and resulted in the public lynching of the two perpetrators.
Sep 15, 2008 Danielle rated it really liked it
This book came highly recommended by my Grampy and he even let me borrow his copy. It is a local reporter's findings about a kidnapping / murder that took place in San Jose, CA (where we live) in the 1930s and the author/reporter's investigation took place in the 1980s. It was so neat to read about places and streets that I actually know and have been to or walked on. The young man who was kidnapped even attended the same university I did. The reason I enjoyed the book so much was definitely bec ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Nov 04, 2008 Stephanie Griffin rated it really liked it
The story of the Brooke Hart kidnapping and murder in 1933 was the sensation of not only San Jose, California, but of the entire country at a time when kidnapping for ransom was becoming the crime of choice among brazen criminals. This book was written in 1992, but as far as I know, there isn’t another book which so thoroughly examines this case.
Brooke Hart was a 22-year-old who had just been made vice-president of the department store his father owned in downtown San Jose. He was abducted and t
Pamela Trawick
Jul 10, 2016 Pamela Trawick rated it it was amazing
Farrel covers the horrible 1933 kidnapping, murder, and lynching in San Jose, California. He captured the culture, geography, and Great Depression. While the details differ from 2016, society's behavior still reeks of mob mentality. Fortunately, there's still good behavior too.

"When the young man and the old shook hands on the deal, they set in motion a chain of events that would bring about three homicides, devastate three families, inflame San Jose and blacken its name, spawn an effort to imp
May 02, 2013 Chuck rated it it was amazing
Excellent true-crime book detailing the kidnapping/murder of Brooke Hart, heir to the Hart's Department Store chain in San Jose, California. Hart's kidnapping occurred just months after the famous "Lindberg baby" kidnapping and Farrell points out that in the 1930's kidnapping wealthy citizens was viewed as an easy way to make money in the depths of the Great Depression. Hart's kidnappers bungled their chance at collecting anything when they killed Brooke and tossed his body into San Francisco Ba ...more
Irving Koppel
Jul 27, 2016 Irving Koppel rated it it was amazing

This happening was truly a tragedy in a tragic time. The young heir to a department store in
San Jose,California was abducted and put to death by two unsavory individuals in1933. After the
two had been apprehended and placed in prison,the tragedy was extended by their being forcefully
removed from the prison and lynched in a park in the heart of town. No one was ever convicted of
their lynching because of a conspiracy of silence which still exists.

I,especially found the book fascinating becau
Peter Clarke
Jun 04, 2012 Peter Clarke rated it really liked it
i great non-fiction story on a piece of San Jose history. The focus is the kidnapping and ultimate death of a local department store heir. The author was a local newspaper reporter and he describes the subsequent arrest of the 2 perpetrators and their imprisonment in the local jail. The news of their arrest was well known and the jail was stormed by a bunch of vigilantes who pulled the criminals into a local park and lynched them.
Therese Wiese
Oct 03, 2014 Therese Wiese rated it it was amazing
Account of the 1933 lynching of the two men accused of kidnaping and killing Brooke Hart heir to Harts Department Store in San Jose. Written by Harry Farrell who wrote for the local San Jose paper - the Mercury News. If you have an interest in San Jose (CA) history, this book is a "must read". Did they do it? Who knows!
Mar 10, 2012 Adrienne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very impressive book. Farrell's writing style is gripping. This book is very well researched. The details are incredible. He documents the names of a lot of the people involved, as well as times, dates, and places. I'd find it hard to believe there are many errors in Farrell's facts and his insights are persuasive.
Tricia Lawrence
Sep 20, 2013 Tricia Lawrence rated it really liked it
A gripping true story of the Brooke Hart kidnapping in San Jose in the 30's and subsequent lynching of the perpetrators, published in 1992. Very well researched and written, particularly fascinating as a crime in my local area. A fascinating, emotional and terrifying chain of events with great insight by the author made a very compelling read.
Nancy Loe
Oct 06, 2007 Nancy Loe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
One of the best true crime books ever. Department store heir Brooke Hart was kidnapped and murdered in 1933. The subsequent lynching of his murderers, Harold Thurmond and John Holmes (the last public lynching in California), is a case study of Depression-era San Jose. Outstanding book by a long-time reporter for the S.J. Murky News.
Kathy Burden
May 31, 2016 Kathy Burden rated it it was amazing
Extremely well written true crime story that is so good, it reads like fiction. Yes, it's about something that happened in my home town (San Jose), and it's really quite shocking. But it's compelling.
Donna Stuedeman
Nov 17, 2014 Donna Stuedeman rated it liked it
It's probably not fair to say I "read" this book. It's better to say I skimmed it and very much enjoyed the history lesson. I'm not one for non-fiction, but since I lived and went to school right where this happened, it was fun to picture the area as I read.
Jan 29, 2008 Thomas rated it really liked it
Extremely well-written and researched account of the kidnapping and murder of Brooke Hart as well as the subsequent lynching of the perpetrators, which took place in San Jose in 1933, two blocks from my current residence.
Nov 30, 2009 Dee rated it really liked it
A great story about the last lynching in California. It took place in the park in San Jose and I'm almost certain my grandparents were in that mob. I wish they were still alive so I could ask them. Highly recommended. I read it for a book club.
Jul 24, 2011 Angelo rated it it was amazing
Must read if you call yourself a native of San Jose.
Jan 26, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this years ago. It was very interesting as a local history story.
Corgi Mom
Mar 06, 2016 Corgi Mom rated it really liked it
Came across this book and had to read it because I was born in San Jose, CA and grew up in the area. Interesting story.
May 20, 2012 Theresa rated it liked it
It was good for people who have some connection to the town/events. I enjoyed it and passed it on to a cousin who lived in San Jose and knew the story.
Vena rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2009
Tony Boskovich
Tony Boskovich rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2013
Kristin rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2010
Jill rated it it was amazing
Jul 30, 2008
Greg Broiles
Greg Broiles rated it it was amazing
Dec 12, 2016
Tiberiusrings rated it liked it
May 19, 2014
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“San Jose is made up of the finest citizens of any city in the entire United States- peace loving, quiet, cultured people. ... God-fearing, law-observing, good citizens have been watching these murders increasing and have watched crime increase in this country and from the time this splendid young fellow [Brooke Hart] was murdered this vigilance committee had in mind carrying out what in their minds was real justice...” 1 likes
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