Golden Boy: A Murder Among the Manhattan Elite

St. Martin’s. Jul. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781250271020. $28.99. CRIME
Journalist Glatt’s (The Perfect Father) new book opens in 2015, with the wealthy and privileged Thomas Gilbert Jr. murdering his father, Thomas Gilbert Sr., with a gunshot to the head. Glatt then traces Gilbert’s life and psychological decline and the largely failed attempts to address it. When the younger Gilbert entered Princeton University, traits that had, in his earlier years, been seen as quirks became serious concerns. Gilbert received an array of diagnoses, from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to schizophrenia, and was treated with therapy, medication, and a stint at an inpatient clinic. He was also self-medicating with near-constant marijuana use and sporadic intake of LSD, steroids, alcohol, and other drugs. At times, his family’s desire to keep up appearances trumped their commitment to addressing Gilbert’s growing delusions. Eventually, he assaulted a former friend and was suspected of burning down that friend’s family vacation home. Gilbert’s murder of his father was incited when his parents cut off the then-30-year-old’s weekly allowance. Glatt is a balanced narrator of this story; though it would be easy to dismiss Gilbert as a privileged man-child protected by wealth and connections, the author also examines how complicated mental illness diagnoses can be, even for people with access to doctors and treatments.
VERDICT A tragic character study at the intersection of wealth, privilege, and mental illness, told with empathy for Gilbert’s victims.
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