"Old Sparky", the electric chair used at Sing Sing prison. Image © Public Domain

Blood and Volts: Edison, Tesla and the Electric Chair

Th. Metzger

“An ax murderer, two of the most brilliant scientific minds of the century, billions of dollars in profit, precedent-setting legal battles, secrets of life and death—all of these come together in the story of the first electric chair… At the dawn of the 20th century, electricity was thought to be a highly ambiguous force: at once a godlike, creative power and demonic destroyer of life… In the popular imagination, Tesla and Edison were seen as nearly superhuman beings, and their struggle was not only for wealth and power, but to reshape the face of America.”

Publisher: Autonomedia
Paperback: 191 pages


The Story of the Titanic as Told by Its Survivors

Edited by Jack Winocour

From 1913: “Lights on board the Titanic were still burning, and a wonderful spectacle she made, standing out black and massive against the starlit sky; myriads of lights still gleaming through the portholes, from that part of the decks still above water. As we watched this terribly awe-inspiring sight, suddenly all lights went out and the huge bulk was left in the black darkness, but clearly silhouetted against the bright sky. Then, the next moment, the massive boilers left their beds and went thundering down with a hollow rumbling roar… carrying everything with them… This unparalleled tragedy was being enacted before our very eyes, now rapidly approaching its finale, as the huge ship slowly but surely reared herself on end and brought rudder and propellers clear of the water, till, at last, she assumed an absolute perpendicular position. Then… she silently took her last tragic dive. Almost like a benediction everyone round me on the upturned boat breathed the two words, ‘She’s gone.’” GR

Publisher: Dover
Paperback: 320 pages

Tex Watson: The Man, the Madness the Manipulation

Bill Nelson

“Tex Watson has a nonprofit ministry while in prison for the murder of seven people. He has fathered three children through conjugal visits. he has a cultlike following across the nation. He wants to be released from his life sentence in prison. He sends his wife Kristin out to give a ‘greeting’ at local churches. He even has the daughter of one of his victims speaking out demanding his release. Tex Watson wants to be a televangelist. This investigation reveals the real Tex Watson, lieutenant of murder for Charles Manson. Has he really changed? You decide.”

Publisher: Pen Power
Paperback: 256 pages

Times 17: News and Reviews

Gareth Penn

“Identifies the Zodiac Killer on the basis of evidence contained in the two dozens letters which the Zodiac wrote to Bay Area newspapers, letters in which he claimed to be identifying himself in some kind of code, a code which has frustrated the best efforts of the local police, the military, the FBI and the National Security Agency for almost a quarter century. The Zodiac’s ‘code’ failed to yield to the most sophisticated code-breaking technique known, and so law-enforcement authorities gave up. They didn’t try Morse Code. Using an analytical method which might have occurred to a Boy Scout, Penn produced a wealth of information which identified a particular individual. This identification has been corroborated by conventional evidence, such as contemporary photographs, handwriting comparisons, employment history, firearms registrations, and what Penn calls ‘behavioral fingerprints,’ which are documented in this book.”

Publisher: Foxglove
Paperback: 380 pages

Tongs, Gangs and Triads: Chinese Crime Groups in North America

Peter Huston

“The Chinese Mafia has earned a reputation as one of the fiercest and most brutal in the seedy underworld of organized crime, most notorious, perhaps, for its control of the lucrative Southeast Asian drug trade. But how much of this is Hollywood hype and how much is reality?… Here author Peter Huston explores the rich Chinese tradition of tongs, triads and secret societies and their frequent involvement in organized crime, as well as their growing collusion with Chinatown street gangs. He also examines how Chinese culture and the plight of Chinatown society obstruct efforts to fight these crime groups and even serve to fuel their growth.”

Publisher: Paladin
Paperback: 280 pages

Total Abuse: Collected Writings, 1984-1995

Peter Sotos

Reads like an elaborate one-note joke whose aim is to shock, a predictable knee-jerk compulsion to sicken—either that, or a tiring exercise in pushing the limits of the First Amendment. Illustrates the basic shortcoming of any conceptual art, no matter what the discipline—it hinges on a punch line and, as such, once you get it the thrill is over (i.e., the joke ain’t funny the second time around—or the third or the fourth or the thousandth). Sotos’ moronic celebrations of the heinous include accolades to Klaus Barbie, necrophiles, child killers and rapists. He even lacks the peripheral saving grace of presenting a vision that’s distinctly “evil”—his words read like mediocre reportage. Difficult to take seriously on any level—even as a one-note joke it’s not funny, merely pointless. A provocateur for the MTV generation; clearly the product of someone with too much time on his hands. MDG

Publisher: Goad to Hell
Paperback: 240 pages

The Trunk Murderess: Winnie Ruth Judd

Jana Bommersbach

Ryan opened the smaller trunk… It contained a human foot and a leg from the knee down… He opened the second. Inside was the torso of a woman from the head to the navel. Ryan decided he’d seen enough and had better wait for the lab men… ‘TWO WOMEN’S BODIES SHIPPED HERE IN TRUNKS BY FIENDISH KILLER!’—Los Angeles Times, 1931… ‘The press had never seen or met me before, but they called me “Tiger Woman!” “Wolf Woman!” “Velvet Tigress!” “Butcher!”… I had always lived a Christian life and I am still a Christian. I have always contended my innocence of murder.”’ GR

Publisher: Berkley
Paperback: 298 pages

Unquiet Minds: The World of Forensic Psychiatry

Hugh Miller

Forensic psychiatrists are the doctors who deal with mentally disordered offenders. They determine who’s the real nut case and who’s the faker. “Time has blessed me with a touch of wisdom and a lot of suspicion,” says a British doctor of psychiatry. “Spotting fakers is a challenge which I take very personally. I never let myself forget I’m working in a muddy territory between madness and badness. I stay alert all the time. These days they have to be pretty good to get past me.” Some of the real-life cases in this book are: “A 32-year-old German who raped and murdered 10 women in his search for an ideal lover. Beatrice… suspected her family of conspiring to take away her imaginary ‘birthright’; in a fit of anger she killed her mother, stabbing her 40 times with a kitchen knife. A gym teacher, convinced he was a macho incarnation of Jesus Christ, embarked on a vicious campaign to rid his neighborhood of the agents of Satan, who happened to include every person who owned a green car.” GR

Publisher: Trafalgar Square
Paperback: 305 pages

Using Murder: The Social Construction of Serial Homicide

Philip Jenkins

What becomes propaganda? Serial killers are not the only animals who get off on their crimes. The serial murder boom (approximately from 1977 to 1991) set off a flurry of spin control by various groups, all attempting to link the purported crime spree to broader social issues, mostly of their own designs. The FBI decided they were in charge. Newspapers and television had a new fear to manipulate. Feminist groups spoke of “femicide,” nonexistent “Satanic cults” were created by true-crime authors, and crime fiction created a new genre of romantic Americana, the serial-killer novel. It’s the stuff we buy into every day. GR

Publisher: Aldine de Gruyter
Paperback: 262 pages

Violence in the Workplace: A Company Guide to Prevention and Management

S. Anthony Baron, Ph.D.

Taking this book at face value as a serious guide to defusing potentially lethal situations—well, let’s just say that you’d be advised to spend your money on Kevlar vests and your time planning escape routes. Guidebooks of this type are always fine sources of campy case studies and amusingly vague advice, and this one is no exception. But the best thing here is that the case studies name names and give details not commonly known about recent workplace shootings. Duck and cover! JM

Publisher: Pathfinder
Paperback: 176 pages

Violent Attachments

J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D.

A scientific analysis of violent attachment disorder broken down by case study, behavior and conclusion. Includes some interesting case studies, but much of the book is written in a dense language intended for a specific audience: “The Harris and Lingoes subscales of Scale 4(Pd) suggested that most of the loading was attributable to Sara’s perceptions of family conflict and discord (Pdl=T69) and profound alienation from herself (Pd4B=T74).” CF

Publisher: Aronson
Paperback: 365 pages