LAW & CRIME

The Kidnap Years: The Astonishing True History of the Forgotten Kidnapping Epidemic That Shook Depression-Era America

Sourcebooks. Apr. 2020. 456p. ISBN 9781492694793. $26.99. CRIME
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Journalist and Edgar Award–winning novelist Stout (Carolina Skeletons) brings to light the forgotten history of America’s kidnapping epidemic. While Americans suffered with unemployment, poverty, and hunger during the Great Depression, resourceful criminals found kidnapping a lucrative enterprise in an era marked by lawlessness and corruption among law enforcement. Stout presents a deeply researched, perfectly paced history of kidnappings that affected everyone from bank presidents and lumber barons to beer brewers and the children of wealthy families. Interspersed with the nail-biting tales of the kidnappings are details about the trials, the criminals, and the formation of the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover’s rise to power. True crime enthusiasts will recognize famous players, such as the Lindberghs and Machine Gun Kelly, but they’ll also discover scores of “forgotten” cases.
VERDICT At turns fascinating and heartbreaking, this expertly crafted history is a must-read for true crime aficionados.

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