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Natural Born Celebrities - Serial Killers in American Culture


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David Schmid is assistant professor of English at the University at Buffalo.


The adage "Don't judge a book by its cover" is particularly apt in the case of this scholarly work. The cover photo might repulse serious readers, which, sadly, would deny them the opportunity to experience a good book. Schmid (English, Univ. of Buffalo) gives readers a full understanding of the legal and investigative context of serial murders (multiple killings by one individual). He does so most notably with respect to the emerging field of psychological profiling by the police. Although many books concentrate on the psychology of crime (as may be seen in the bibliography of James McGuire's Understanding Psychology and Crime), no other title succeeds in providing such signal instruction on the pervasive cultural phenomena associated with (and often animating) the deployment of police resources in hunting down these "devils." No other book has underlined the dual perspective (demonizing and lionizing) adopted by the public in its perverse fascination with these killers. Schmid addresses serial crimes from those at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair to famous present-day examples. Each chapter ably discusses the history of particular murderers, linking them and their crimes with the cultural context. A tour-de-force indictment of our society's complicity in making such fiends popular; especially recommended for academic libraries.-Gilles Renaud, Ontario Court of Justice, Cornwall Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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