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Compulsion - A Play

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Compulsion - A Play

by LEVIN, Meyer

  • Used
  • near fine
  • Hardcover
  • First
Near Fine/Near Fine
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This seller has earned a 4 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Springtown, Pennsylvania
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About This Item

New York: Simon & Schuster, 1959. Light toning to type on spine of d.w. First Play edition; foreword by the author; previous owners stamp on ffep.; 132pp. Scarce. Based on the best selling novel of the 1950's. . First Thus. Hard Cover. Near Fine/Near Fine.


The 20th century was not very old when Chicago played host to what was freely billed "the crime of the century." It happened in 1924, when two rich young men kidnapped and murdered a boy simply to exercise what they believed to be their superior intellectual skills. Both Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were sons of wealthy Jewish families in Chicago, arrogant in their sense of entitlement, sure they were above the law. Their vicious kidnapping and killing of Bobby Franks horrified the world, and the two were spared the death penalty only as the result of an extraordinary appeal by their defense attorney, the legendary Clarence Darrow.Novelist Meyer Levin covered the Leopold-Loeb trial as a student reporter and, some 30 years later, returned to the subject -- and the reporter's perspective -- in novelized form in Compulsion, published in 1956. Fiction allowed Levin to project himself inside the heads of the murderers (Leopold was still alive and in prison at the time), to explore elements in their behavior -- such as their homosexual tendencies -- not easily confronted at that time. The novel transforms Leopold and Loeb into Judd Steiner and Artie Strauss, their victim into Paulie Kessler and their defense attorney into Jonathan Wilk. Levin's novel is in two parts, "The Crime of the Century" and "The Trial of the Century." It explores the reasons the young men chose to commit a "perfect" crime -- a crime that was otherwise meaningless -- and it dramatizes the remarkable summation by their attorney that saved them from the gallows.Interestingly, the publication (and subsequent film adaptation) of Compulsion angered one person -- Nathan Leopold, who had been an exemplary and even heroic prisoner, and was paroled in 1958, after Erle Stanley Gardner and Carl Sandburg testified at his parole hearing. (Loeb, who had become surly and violent in prison, was murdered there in a knife fight in 1936.) Leopold was offended by the novel and film, and he sued both Meyer Levin and the film's producer Richard Zanuck for invasion of privacy. The case dragged for over a decade; when it was decided in 1970, Leopold was ruled to be a public figure and not entitled to the protection of privacy. He died the following year.


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abookshop US (US)
Bookseller Inventory #
Compulsion - A Play
LEVIN, Meyer
Book condition
Used - Near Fine
Jacket condition
Near Fine
First Thus
Simon & Schuster
Place of Publication
New York
Date published
Bookseller catalogs
Drama; Theatrical Plays; Addbooks53; ABAA; ABAA2; NYSHOW2008; NYSHOW2009;

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About the Seller


Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 4 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers. member since: 2004
Springtown, Pennsylvania
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