On this month’s episode of the Deerfield Public Library Podcast, author Nina Barrett discusses her recent book, The Leopold and Loeb Files: An Intimate Look at One of America’s Most Infamous Crimes

The 1924 murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks by University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold & Richard Loeb, has been, for the last 95 years, one of the most mythologized crime stories in America, particularly in Chicagoland. Nina Barrett takes a unique approach to draw us back to the truth behind the legend. Her book introduces and annotates excerpts from rare primary source documents from the case, including psychiatric reports, court transcripts, and photographs, to give us a fascinating look into the past as it really happened. 

I am not naturally a true crime fan–and neither is Nina!–but I found this book totally absorbing. Our conversation tells the story of what newspapers at the time called the “crime of the century,” while also covering the layers of meaning that have made this inscrutable murder endlessly interesting. Reading The Leopold and Loeb Files also reproduces the thrilling feeling of searching through an archive, a feeling we know well here at the Library. 

You can check out The Leopold and Loeb Files here at the Library, read more about it on Nina’s website, or find her at Bookends & Beginnings, the bookstore she owns in Evanston. And, if this story inspires you to do your own deep dive into local history, you can find the Library’s digitized archives at archives.deerfieldlibrary.org. Our Fight to Integrate Deerfield and our Deerfield High School Yearbook collections have been especially popular. 

We hope you enjoy our 33rd episode! This is our last episode of the year, but look for us in 2020, where once again we’ll release a monthly episode featuring a conversation with a notable guest, including authors, artists, and leaders from Deerfield, Chicagoland, and the world. Learn more about the podcast on our podcast page.

You can listen to all of our episodes in the player below or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. We welcome your comments and feedback—please send to [email protected].

Photo credit: Ned Schaub