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Little Lindy Is Kidnapped

How the Media Covered the Crime of the Century

Thomas Doherty



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Columbia University Press
26 February 2021
The biggest crime story in American history began on March 1, 1932, when the twenty-month-old child of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was snatched from his crib in Hopewell, New Jersey. The news shocked a nation enamored of the famous aviator, the first to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic. Virtually every police officer in the area was dispatched to return ?

Little Lindy? to the arms of his parents?and perhaps even more energized were the legions of journalists catering to a public whose appetite for Lindbergh news was insatiable.

In Little Lindy Is Kidnapped, Thomas Doherty offers a lively and comprehensive cultural history of the media coverage of the abduction and its aftermath. Beginning with Lindbergh's ascent to fame and proceeding through the trial and execution of the accused perpetrator, Doherty traces how newspapers, radio, and newsreels reported on what was dubbed the ?crime of the century.? He casts the kidnapping as a transformative moment for American journalism, analyzing how the case presented new challenges and opportunities for each branch of the media in the days before the rise of television. Coverage of the Lindbergh story, Doherty reveals, set the script for the way the media would treat breaking news for decades to come. An engrossing account of one of American history's most breathlessly covered cases, Little Lindy Is Kidnapped sheds new light on an enduring quality of journalism ever since: the media's eye on a crucial part of the story?itself.
By:   Thomas Doherty
Imprint:   Columbia University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9780231198486
ISBN 10:   0231198485
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   26 February 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Thomas Doherty is professor of American studies at Brandeis University. His previous Columbia University Press books include Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-1939 (2013) and Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist (2018).

Reviews for Little Lindy Is Kidnapped: How the Media Covered the Crime of the Century

With scrupulous research and thrilling insight, Little Lindy Is Kidnapped reveals that the news coverage surrounding the kidnapping of Little Lindy is just as historically significant as the crime itself. * Los Angeles Review of Books * Lindbergh kidnapping buffs, media scholars, and those interested in media history will be intrigued. * Library Journal * Little Lindy Is Kidnapped takes the famous baby's abduction as a case study in the reach of journalism, radio, and newsreels in the mid-twentieth century. In genial, erudite prose, Doherty explains the mechanics of contemporary news production and dissemination and reveals how this heartbreaking affair reached the American public. In doing so, he highlights the work of beat reporters, pressmen, radio broadcasters, and newsreel cameramen that kept the country mesmerized by the police investigation and the trial that followed. Little Lindy Is Kidnapped is a gripping account of the story behind the story. -- Mikita Brottman, author of <i>An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere</i> Doherty locates, summarizes, and critiques an impressive array of long-forgotten and fascinating media. His writing style is fluid and almost conversational, making Little Lindy Is Kidnapped both rigorous scholarship and an enjoyable read. Doherty's book teaches us that 'ripped from the headlines' media and twenty-four hour broadcast news started a long time before Law and Order and CNN. -- Michael J. Socolow, author of <i>Six Minutes in Berlin: Broadcast Spectacle and Rowing Gold at the Nazi Olympics</i> Little Lindy Is Kidnapped is a spellbinding rollercoaster of a read. It adds significantly to our understanding of how commercial media developed in the United States, exploring the roles of technological change, cultural imperatives, petty rivalries, coincidence, capitalism, and the things we most fear. -- Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, author of <i>Jack Benny and the Golden Age of American Radio Comedy</i>

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