LAW & CRIME

Cry of Murder on Broadway: A Woman’s Ruin and Revenge in Old New York

Three Hills. Oct. 2020. 280p. ISBN 9781501751486. $28.95. CRIME
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Miller (Abandoned) provides a fascinating snapshot of the disparate lives of the rich and the poor in 19th-century New York. In 1843, Amelia Norman stabbed wealthy merchant Henry Ballard on the steps of Astor House; Ballard survived, and Norman was tried for attempted murder. She was thought to have been driven mad after Ballard seduced her when she was 16 and working as a domestic servant, impregnated her, then abandoned her and their infant, forcing her to resort to prostitution to support her family. Following the Panic of 1837, class division in New York was at a fever pitch, and this case, coupled with the burgeoning women’s and workers’ rights movements, further emphasized the societal divides gripping the city. While Norman received support from reformers such as author and abolitionist Lydia Marie Child, the city’s elites banded together behind Ballard. This deeply researched, absorbing work captures the sensationalism of Norman’s failed attempt at murder and the subsequent trial as well as the political and economic upheaval sweeping the country.
VERDICT Bound to appeal to true crime readers, especially those with an interest in the intersection of crime and socioeconomic issues.

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