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Early True Crime Journalism: Books from the 1800s and 1900s

True crime journalism is a genre that has been around for centuries, with early examples dating back to the 1800s and 1900s. These early books offer a glimpse into the past and can provide a unique perspective on crime and punishment during that time. Here are some examples of early true crime journalism books that are worth reading:

  1. "The Newgate Calendar" (published 1874-1897): This series of biographies of notorious criminals from the 18th and 19th centuries is considered one of the first true crime books. It offers a glimpse into the lives of notorious criminals such as Jack the Ripper and Burke and Hare, as well as the social and legal context of the time.

  2. "The Annals of Murder" (published 1861) by J. Thomas: This book provides detailed accounts of various notorious murders that occurred in the United States and Europe from the 16th century to the 19th century. It also provides an analysis of the criminal justice system of the time.

  3. "The Chronicles of Crime" (published 1829-1830) by Camille Flammarion: This two-volume set covers notorious crimes from the Middle Ages to the late 18th century. It provides a detailed account of the crimes, the criminals and their punishment, as well as the social and legal context of the time.

  4. "Murder for Profit" (published 1908) by Thomas S. Duke: This book covers the notorious crimes of the late 19th and early 20th century, such as the murders of the wealthy businessman William Marsh Rice, and the Pitezel family, who were killed by H.H Holmes.

  5. "The American Tragedy" (published 1925) by Theodore Dreiser: This true crime book tells the story of the murder of a young woman by her lover and his subsequent trial. It's considered a classic of American literature and also provides a glimpse into the social and legal context of the time.


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