The Untold Story of the Killing Spree that Changed America

    • Pre-Order
    • Expected Nov 28, 2023
    • $15.99
    • Pre-Order
    • $15.99

Publisher Description

The true story behind the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers, Bruce Springsteen's iconic album Nebraska, and the new Showtime docuseries The 12th Victim

A bestselling true crime writer chronicles the true story of Charles Starkweather, often considered to be the first mass killer of the modern age of America and served as a precursor to the violence of contemporary America

On January 21st, 1958, Charles Starkweather and his fourteen-year-old girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate changed the course of crime in the United States when they murdered her parents and sister in a house on the edge of Lincoln, Nebraska. They then drove to the nearby small town of Bennet, where they robbed and killed a farmer. When Starkweather’s car broke down, the man and woman who stopped to help were murdered and jammed in a food cellar. By the time the dust settled, ten innocent people were dead, and the city of Lincoln was in a state of terror. Schools closed. Men with rifles perched on the roofs of their houses. National guardsmen patrolled the street. Every few hours, there would come a knock on the door, and a voice would ask: "Everyone all right in there?" If there is a cultural version of PTSD, the town suffered from it.

Starkweather and Fugate’s killing spree and the resulting trials received world-wide coverage. It was the first mass killing of the modern age—a precursor of the awakening of the country from the slumber of the fifties to the rebellious, violent sixties. Soon to follow were Manson, Bundy, Speck, Gacey, DeSalvo, Ramirez, Whitman, Berkowitz, and numerous others. From Starkweather on, people in the Midwest locked their doors. 

Yet, in spite of this massive exposure, the story has dropped far from the national consciousness. The vast majority of the reading public—so absorbed in true crime—would recognize neither the name nor the story. With new material, new reporting, and new conclusions about the possible guilt or innocence of Fugate, the tale is ripe for an updated and definitive retelling. And no one better suited for it than true crime writer Harry Maclean, who hails from the same town as Starkweather, and whose classic In Broad Daylight has sold more than one million copies.

November 28
Penguin Random House LLC

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