Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

7 Books on Lizzie Borden


Lizzie Borden

Image via Wikipedia

You know the rhyme.  “Lizzie Borden took an axe.  And gave her mother forty whacks.  When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.”  The trail of Lizzie Borden for the murder of her father and her stepmother took the United States by storm in 1892, when Borden was 32 years of age.  Despite the fact that there was a lot of suspicious activity surrounding the case, Borden was acquitted and lived quietly (if not a little scandalously) until she died of pneumonia at 66 years old.

Many people have studied Borden’s case with a fervor that can only be described as, well, a fervor.  To the outside observer nowadays, it seems like she did it.  But, many have gone to great lengths to prove that she didn’t.  Others were more obsessed with Borden’s life after the murders – her stint shoplifting and her alleged lesbian affair.  Here you will find 7 Books about Lizzie Borden.  Read them and see for yourself if she was indeed a killer.

Lizzie Borden (New England Remembers) (NE Remembers)

Karen Chaney with foreward by Robert Allison

Every now and then I’ll tell you a book you should avoid.  This is one of those times.  This drab, inaccurate, and poorly researched book is not worth the paper it is printed on.  As the reviews on Amazon will tell you, the author is a professor at Harvard.  That means we expect some cohesiveness to the text, and some citations would be nice.  Skip this one.  Don’t let the Harvard credentials fool you.

>>Poorly-Written Account – ISBN-13: 978-188933819

A Private Disgrace:  Lizzie Borden by Daylighta private disgrace

by Victoria Lincoln

It is definitely interesting that the author hails from Fall River (which is the same town Lizzie was from and where the murders happened) and Lincoln is definitely a good writer.  Lincoln writes the theory that Lizzie was, in fact, guilty of the murders, but that they happened when she was in the throes of a petit mal seizure.  Not very likely, but Lincoln supports that theory and writes one heck of a book.  She won an Edgar for it, and the book has been compared to Truman Capote‘s In Cold Blood in terms of a quality true crime book.  Good luck finding it, however.

>>An Award-Winning Account – ASIN:  B0006BR7XQ

Forty Whacks:  New Evidence in the Life and Legend of Lizzie Borden

by David Kent

David Kent is considered by some to be the definitive word in the Lizzie Borden case.  By others, he’s considered to be clueless.  The new evidence he brings forth supports the theory that Lizzie was innocent.  He doesn’t actually come down on one side or the other in the book – he leaves it up to you, the reader, to decide, which is kind of cool.  Kent also created a book called The Lizzie Borden Sourcebook which contains copies of the newspaper articles of the time, court notes, and more.

>>David Kent – ISBN-13:  978-0828319508

Lizzie Borden Took an Axe, or Did She?  A Rhetorical Inquiry

by Annette Holba

The author has some impressive credentials – and she has a Ph.D in Rhetoric.  It is hard to tell if this book is really about Lizzie Borden or if it is a textbook designed to teach rhetorical analysis.  Holba uses Burke’s “through the lens” rhetorical theory to examine the Borden case, and while all of the essays are interesting, some are a bit high-handed.  If you’re a student of rhetorical theory AND Lizzie Borden, by all means pick this one up.

>>Rhetorical Inquiry – ISBN-13:  978-1934844014

Lizzie Borden:  The untold story

by Edward Radin

Radin was a news reporter.  He was given a “signed confession” of Lizzie’s in the 50’s, but the authenticity of that document is dubious, and Radin actually believed that Lizzie’s sister, Bridget, was the guilty party.  This is a well-written book, and a good starting place in the Borden genre.

>>Radin – ASIN:  B0007EBMMO

The Borden Tragedy:  A Memoir of the Infamous Double Murder at Fall River, Mass., 1892

by Rick Geary

Geary has a style all his own.  He uses a comic/graphic novel format, and employs a fictional narrator to tell the tale.  He did the same in his account of Jack the Ripper, and he does it in this well-received book about Lizzie Borden.  So, not only is this book a work of art, but the facts are painstakingly researched and well-executed.

>>Graphic Novel on Lizzie Borden – ISBN-13:  978-1561631896

The Fall River Tragedy
by Edwin H. Porter

This was the first book written about the Borden murders.  Mostly facsimiles are available now, as the first printing in in 1893 was a short run, and a reprint in 1985 only yielded 1000 copies.  A rumor exists that says that Lizzie herself was instructed by her lawyers to buy up all the copies that were printed in 1893 and destroy them.  A fun rumor, but not true.  The book itself outlines the entire case, from the discovery of the murders to the end of the trial, and is considered the definitive volume on the case.

>>Definitive Borden Book – ISBN-13:  978-1584775461

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