The Lindbergh Kidnapping Suspect No. 1

The Man Who Got Away

Non-Fiction - True Crime
578 Pages
Reviewed on 05/25/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Shannon Winings for Readers' Favorite

On March 1, 1932, Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. was abducted from his crib in his parents' New Jersey home. His nanny, Betty Gow, was the first to notice his disappearance. This stirred a massive hunt for baby Charles and the kidnapper(s). The Lindbergh Kidnapping Suspect No. 1: The Man Who Got Away by Lise Pearlman starts by introducing the Lindbergh family and their history before describing the now-infamous kidnapping. Following the disappearance, readers are then taken on a journey to search for the suspect(s). Ten weeks later, this turns into a manhunt for the killer(s). Lise Pearlman takes readers on an adventure behind the scenes and delves into what the evidence says to reveal a shocking conclusion. Was Bruno Richard Hauptmann's execution for this crime a mistake?

The Lindbergh Kidnapping Suspect No. 1: The Man Who Got Away by Lise Pearlman is a must-read for any true crime aficionado and those fascinated with this highly publicized case. I was thrilled to read this book and am sure others will like it as well. The book is meticulously organized and filled with information. Clearly, the author did an extensive amount of research. The author even provides a cast of characters, photographs, end-notes, sources, appendices, and an index. In addition to this wealth of information, I enjoyed the author's writing style. I felt like I could truly get into the story and picture what was happening. I'm excited to see what other books the author has written and what they are up to next.

Jamie Michele

The Lindbergh Kidnapping Suspect No. 1: The Man Who Got Away by Lise Pearlman is a true-crime non-fiction account that revisits the famous kidnapping and murder of little Charles Lindbergh Jr, the 20-month-year-old son of the legendary aviator, Charles Lindbergh. Written in five acts, Pearlman begins with the early years of Lindbergh that saw him through an acrimonious relationship between his parents and his catapult from the “flying fool” to his historic flight. His celebrity status was sealed and after some time and a bit of a fight, he was married to Anne Morrow. When their son was born, Anne was uncomfortable with how little Lindbergh Sr connected to Charlie Jr. Even more unsettling were some of the draconian measures of discipline Lindbergh employed. His disinterest only seemed to lift when he was criticizing his son. Still, Charlie thrived and Anne, along with their nanny, doted on him. That is, until the fateful night he disappeared. This is where Pearlman diverges from the traditional narrative and begins to poke holes in the events that followed, and question the guilt of the man who died as a result, Hauptmann. Pearlman moves between the investigation that continued, the instability and increasing inscrutability of Lindbergh, his fall from grace, and the facts that point the murder of Charlie back to his own father.

As the daughter of a casual pilot and Civil Air Patrol volunteer, with a brother who is also a pilot and a Marine, the Lindbergh mystery has been the topic of many family dinners. Lise Pearlman has amassed and pulled together so much information that The Lindbergh Kidnapping Suspect No. 1 is mind-blowing in its clarity. There were sometimes low rumblings of the possibility of Lindbergh himself being culpable, but they have mostly been chalked up to wild conspiracy theories. The narcissism and glow of the spotlight, particularly for a man who in the beginning was painfully awkward in social situations, is compelling in and of itself. Lindbergh's connections, his fascination with eugenics, and a family history of questionable health that he seemed to see in Charlie are terrifying. I was impressed with Pearlman's inclusion of photographs, news clippings, memorandums, and multiple paper trails—including one from J. Edgar Hoover—implicating Lindbergh in the brutal murder. From a literary standpoint, Pearlman is a gifted writer and historian, and I am so glad to have read her work. Very highly recommended.