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Shattered Sense of Innocence

The real story behind one of the most shocking events of local history

Shattered Sense of Innocence: The 1955 Murders of Three Chicago Children by Richard C. Lindberg and Gloria Jean Sykes. (Southern Illinois University Press, $29.95).

We’re accustomed to Richard Lindberg’s prolific accounts of Chicago history; he’s written volumes about the city’s politics, crimes and disasters. In this new book, the authors tell the real story behind one of the most shocking events of local history. On October 15, 1955, three boys from the far Northwest Side of Chicago—two brothers and a friend from the neighborhood—attended a movie in the Loop and never returned. Two days later they were found dead in a Robinson Woods Forest Preserve parking lot. Forty years later, Kenneth Hansen, an associate of the notorious Silas Jayne, was sentenced to 300 years in prison for their murders and in a second trial, was sentenced again. But, this is not the whole story. In fact, there is not just one story; there are many, and Lindberg and Sykes have covered and connected them all, filling in the 40 years between the crime and a surprising resolution to a case long considered one of Chicago’s coldest. It’s a history book, a true crime novel and just a good read.—Tamara Shaffer

Thus Saith the Lord: The Revolutionary Moral Vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah by Richard E. Rubenstein. (Harcourt, Inc., $25).

Feel the need for religious voices advocating for the cause of justice and inclusion rather than hatred and arrogance? Wondering whose vision will lead us in a moral direction? Welcome to Richard Rubenstein’s latest gift to readers. Those familiar with his past books (When Jesus Became God, Aristotle’s Children) know that he not only brings people and historical periods to life, he also shows their effect on the present. Readers will be swept along with Jewish events and attitudes as they interact with the various empires of 740-540 BCE and discover how the message of Israel’s great prophets influenced them. The author, professor of conflict resolution and public affairs at George Mason University, consistently listens for what these prophets can contribute to contemporary religious and political decision-making. Rubenstein concludes his work by showing how Jesus of Nazareth inherited and made use of both classical and apocalyptic prophetic tradition, extended their ethical creativity and inspired the nonviolent leaders of our times. Maps, endnotes, a selected bibliography and an index enhance the text. Readers of all faiths, or none, can enjoy and profit from Rubenstein’s insights. —Sister Terri MacKenzie

Between the Lines, compiled and edited by Joseph Parisi and Stephen Young. (Ivan R. Dee, $35).

This book follows the fascinating story behind the more than $100 million bequest to Poetry magazine by amateur poet and pharmaceutical heiress, Ruth Lilly. The book shares the rich history of Poetry magazine from 1962 to 2002 and reveals the inside stories of aspiring authors, the inspirations behind classic poems and the practicalities of publishing. The book includes nearly five hundred letters that have never been printed before. In addition, the book includes numerous author photographs, drawings and newspaper clippings to enliven this amazing story. Poets featured in the book include a “who’s who” from T.S. Eliot, Erica Jong and Rita Dove to Billy Collins, Robert Pinsky and Mary Oliver. —Kathleen A. Welton

Twilight by William Gay. (MacAdam Cage, $25).

In 1951 rural Tennessee, Corrie Tyler becomes suspicious that local undertaker Fenton Breece has buried her father with something less than the vault the family purchased. Her brother Kenneth reluctantly humors her by digging up not only their father, but also others  recently departed, and they find that Breece has been amusing himself by burying corpses mutilated or posed in acts of perversion. Corrie decides that blackmail will be just the ticket to deliver justice to Breece. When the confrontation goes horribly wrong, Kenneth is forced to flee into the deep woods with the law and Breece’s hired strongman Granville Sutter on his trail. The author’s native territory is the rural South. He spends entire chapters on Tyler’s odyssey through the Harrikin, a godforsaken wilderness sparsely populated by isolated inhabitants with a low tolerance for other people, let alone fugitives. Even an urban reader can follow Tyler’s every twist and turn through the nearly trackless wilderness, and the claustrophobia of a rural population for whom no one born locally in the past half-century can ever be a stranger. Gay makes us forget the passage of time and the existence of any world but his own.—Kathy Churay

We welcome your review. If we publish it, we will send you a gift certificate for dinner. E-mail to editorial@chicagolife.net or mail to Chicago Life Reviews, P.O. Box 11131, Chicago IL 60611-0311.

Published: January 28, 2007
Issue: Winter 2007