Sunday, March 9, 2014
VOA News: "Mexican officials say a powerful drug lord who had been reported killed three years ago was actually killed early Sunday morning in a shootout with marines in western Mexico."
Nonfiction book by J. Randy Taraborrelli
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Hachette Book Group:
The Hiltons is a sweeping saga of the success and excess of an iconic American family. Demanding and enigmatic, patriarch Conrad Hilton's visionary ideas and unyielding will established the model for the modern luxury hotel industry. But outside the boardroom, Conrad struggled with emotional detachment, failed marriages, and conflicted Catholicism. Then there were his children: Playboy Nicky Hilton's tragic alcoholism and marriage to Elizabeth Taylor was the stuff of tabloid legend. Barron Hilton, on the other hand, deftly handled his father's legacy, carrying the Hilton brand triumphantly into the new millennium. Eric, raised apart from his older brothers, accepted his supporting role in the Hilton dynasty with calm and quiet — a stark contrast to the boys' much younger half-sister Francesca, whose battle for recognition led her into courtrooms and conflict. The cast of supporting players includes the inimitable Zsa Zsa Gabor, who was married to Conrad briefly and remained a thorn in his side for decades — and a host of other Hollywood and business luminaries with whom the Hiltons crossed paths and swords over the years.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
House of Outrageous Fortune
Nonfiction book by Michael Gross
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Simon & Schuster:
In real estate-obsessed New York, no new building has captured the city's imagination — or as many of its richest residents — as Fifteen Central Park West.
In House of Outrageous Fortune, America's foremost chronicler of the upper crust, journalist and bestselling author Michael Gross, turns his gimlet eye on the new-money wonderland that's sprung up on the southwest rim of Central Park. Mixing an absorbing business epic with hilarious social comedy, Gross creates a dishy exposé of today's wealthiest and most famous. This colorful story recounts the record-setting building's inspired genesis, costly construction, and the flashy international lifestyle it has brought to a once benighted and socially déclassé Manhattan neighborhood.
With two concierge-staffed lobbies, a walnut-lined library, a lavish screening room, a private sixty-seat restaurant offering residents room service, a health club complete with a seventy-foot swimming pool, and penthouses that cost almost $100 million, Fifteen is the most outrageously successful, insanely expensive, titanically tycoon-stuffed real estate development of the twenty-first century. And any building that's home to such unimaginable wealth and heavyweight egos — its cast of characters includes Denzel Washington, Sting, Alex Rodriguez, Norman Lear, NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, hedge fund heads Daniel Loeb and Daniel Och, Russian and Chinese oligarchs, and top executives of Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, AIG, Disney, Google, and Yahoo!, among many more — will be chock-full of jaw-dropping excess.
Gross won unprecedented access to the people behind this instantly legendary building, including the scions of the fabled Zeckendorf real estate dynasty; their financial backers, Goldman Sachs and Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer; and their "starchitect," Robert A. M. Stern. Then he drilled past its limestone façade to ferret out the stories Fifteen's fathers and its residents don't want told.
More than just an apartment building, 15CPW represents a massive paradigm shift in the lifestyle of New York's rich and famous — and is a bellwether of the city's changing social and financial landscape. With its dazzling detail, House of Outrageous Fortune is a sweeping history of those changes, and it pulls open wide the gilded walls of Fifteen to reveal the private lives of that .01 percent.Website: Fifteen Central Park West
Friday, March 7, 2014
District Attorney's Office, Nassau County: "Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the takedown of a large-scale, sophisticated counterfeiting operation in which more than $2 million worth of health and beauty products was seized yesterday from five locations across Nassau County."
Joe Schwartz at Cornell University: "By literally looking below the surface and digging up the dirt, Cornell researchers have discovered that a burgeoning deer population forever alters the progression of a forest’s natural future by creating environmental havoc in the soil and disrupting the soil’s natural seed banks."
Secrets of Breaking into the Film and TV Business
Nonfiction book by Dean Silvers
A highly successful, award-winning independent producer shares his funny, practical, and innovative approach to breaking into film or television, whether you want to direct, act, write, or produce.
It doesn't take film school or expensive, high-tech equipment to make a brilliant — and marketable — movie today, says successful maverick producer Dean Silvers. For aspiring filmmakers, it's easier than ever to produce — and sell — their work. Secrets of Breaking into the Film and TV Business is packed with concrete, proven advice to help you follow in the footsteps of today's cinematic giants, many of whom broke out with runaway independent successes. Drawing from his own experience as a filmmaker, Silvers offers essential tips and a wealth of invaluable knowledge about every aspect of the moviemaking business, from Internet shorts to how to adapt, option, and collaborate on feature-length films (with shoestring budgets).
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The Hard Thing About Hard Things
Nonfiction book by Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup — practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular Ben's Blog.
While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he's gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.
Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz's personal and often humbling experiences.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Nick Simeone, American Forces Press Service:
Helped by the Arab Spring, terrorist groups in North and West Africa have expanded their operations, increasing threats to the United States and its interests, the commander of U.S. Africa Command told Congress today.
"These revolutions, coupled with the fragility of neighboring states, continue to destabilize the region," Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez told the Senate Armed Services Committee in prepared testimony.
"The spillover effects of revolutions include the return of fighters and flow of weapons from Libya to neighboring countries following the fall of the Gadhafi regime and the export of foreign fighters from North Africa to the Syrian conflict," the general said.
Rodriguez described the security situation in Libya — where a NATO-backed air campaign in 2011 aimed at protecting civilians from pro-Gadhafi forces eventually led to the leader’s overthrow — as volatile and tenuous, especially in the east and southwest. "Militia groups control significant areas of territory and continue to exert pressure on the Libyan government," he said.
AFRICOM, he said, is working to help build Libyan security forces, but in the meantime, terrorist groups including those affiliated with al-Qaida have taken root in vast, lawless areas of the country and are using the region as a base to extend their reach across northwest Africa.
Farther west, though, Rodriguez pointed to success the United States and its French and African allies have had in stabilizing Mali, where Islamic extremists took control of a large swath of the desert country's north following a coup two years ago. "U.S. support has enabled [United Nations forces] and French operations to secure key cities and disrupt terrorist organizations," he added.
Rodriguez described challenges facing the United States and Europe across the continent, from the Sahel region in West Africa to Somalia in the east.
"The collective aftermath of revolutions in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, including uncertain political transitions, spillover effects, and exploitation by violent extremist organizations of under-governed spaces and porous borders are key sources of instability that require us to remain vigilant in the near term," he said. While multinational efforts are disrupting terrorists, he added, "the growth and activity of the violent extremist network across the African continent continues to outpace these efforts."
Rodriguez ticked off a list of security challenges facing the continent and his command.
Despite programs and exercises with Nigeria, the terrorist group Boko Haram continues to attack civilian and government facilities and has extended its reach into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon. In Somalia, after having no presence in the country for years, the U.S. military now has three people on the ground, he said, to coordinate with U.N. and other partnered forces to disrupt and contain al-Shabaab forces and expand areas under the control of the nominal government in Mogadishu.
He described the efforts as playing "limited, but important roles" in weakening the militant group, which controls portions of the country and claimed responsibility for a massacre at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September that killed more than 60 people.
Rodriguez reported significant progress in reducing piracy.
"In 2013, zero ships were hijacked in nine attempted attacks in the region," he said. Just two years earlier, there had been more than 150 attempted hijackings.
While Rodriguez said AFRICOM is using military-to-military engagements, programs, exercises and other operations to respond to crises and deter threats, he emphasized that these efforts are geared toward enabling African partners to handle these problems.
"We believe efforts to meet security challenges in Africa are best led and conducted by African partners," he said, efforts that ultimately will depend on African nations developing effective partner-nation security institutions that respect civilian authority.
Voice of America:
United Nations refugee chief António Guterres says the western part of Central African Republic has been "cleansed" of most Muslims, as he and others plead for help from the Security Council.
Guterres told the Council Thursday that no visit he has made in the last eight years as high commissioner has caused him more anguish than C.A.R. He said the barbarity, brutality and inhumanity is shocking.
The Council is considering whether to send a 12,000-member peacekeeping force to C.A.R., where fighting between Muslim and Christian militias has killed numerous civilians and left hundreds of thousands homeless and fleeing for their lives.
C.A.R. Foreign Minister Toussaint Kongo-Doudou said his government will "roll out the red carpet" for a U.N. force. He told the Council that C.A.R's survival depends on it.
French U.N. Ambassador Gérard Araud said he will introduce a resolution on peacekeepers in the coming weeks, and he predicts its approval. But he said he expects tough talks on the cost of such a force.
Sixteen-hundred French soldiers already are in C.A.R., along with 6,000 African Union forces.
Chaos erupted in C.A.R. last year when Muslim rebels toppled the government. The rebels looted, raped and murdered civilians, giving rise to an equally brutal Christian militia who have attacked Muslim civilians.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Nick Simeone, American Forces Press Service:
The top U.S. military commander for the Asia-Pacific region told Congress today that growing challenges posed by China's rising military power, an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable North Korea, escalating territorial disputes and humanitarian aid efforts after natural disasters are putting the U.S. military in Asia at greater risk.
Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee the challenges all are part of PACOM's efforts to defend U.S. interests in a region that spans more than half the globe.
"And we have done all this against the backdrop of continued fiscal and resource uncertainty, and the resultant diminishing readiness and availability of our joint force," he said.
A day after North Korea tested a long-range rocket and China reported plans to increase military spending by 12 percent, Locklear testified that "those things all make a security environment that's more complex," and he called North Korea "very unpredictable and increasingly dangerous."
A tighter fiscal environment, he said, has led to readiness levels that he considers unacceptable should the United States or its allies be threatened. Forces either are not ready or have been deployed elsewhere in the world, he explained.
"From my assessment, the global demand on maritime forces in general, which include our aircraft carrier force, far exceed what the Navy is able to resource," Locklear said. U.S. naval assets are now tasked with patrolling a much greater portion of the globe, he added, and that will only increase.
"When I was a young officer, I never considered that we would be contemplating operations in the Antarctic, but that will come, probably in the very near future," the admiral said. "I couldn’t have found the Horn of Africa on a chart, or wasn’t familiar with it. But now we operate routinely there."
The added responsibilities come at a time when Asian nations are building "ever more aggressive" and high-end military capabilities, while regional disputes are on the rise, Locklear told the panel. At the same time, he said, the United States has no plans to build new bases overseas, but will instead look to partner with allies such as the Philippines to reach base-access agreements.
"I would have never anticipated that there would be the kind of tensions in the vast South China Sea over territorial rights and fishing rights, or in the East China Sea," Locklear told the panel — issues he said the United States is watching very carefully, but ultimately have to be settled through arbitration, rather than coercion.
Locklear said China’s expanding military budget should not come as a surprise, but a lack of transparency regarding what the increased spending is being used for concerns him. He also wonders whether the world will see China as a net provider of security or whether Beijing will use its muscle to pursue regional claims, he added.
"We have a military-to-military relationship, which is slow but steady," Locklear said, "and we are making progress in breaking down the barriers."
U.S. Department of Justice: "A federal jury in San Francisco has found two individuals and one company guilty of economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, bankruptcy fraud, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice for their roles in a long-running effort to obtain U.S. trade secrets for the benefit of companies controlled by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)."
U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE):
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), seized 1,103 kilograms of cocaine and arrested two individuals for drug trafficking Monday. The cocaine had an estimated street value of $30 million.
"HSI will continue working with our CCSF partners to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and way of life try to smuggle or transport illegal contraband in our area of jurisdiction," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "This seizure demonstrates what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies work together with vigilance and a commitment to enforce our nation's customs laws."
On March 3, a maritime patrol aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami detected a suspicious go-fast vessel with two outboard engines and two subjects onboard traveling northbound and without navigation lights 20 nautical miles south of Ponce.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) dispatched a marine unit to intercept the suspicious vessel for further inspection.
CBP officers intercepted the go-fast vessel approximately six miles south of Ponce, and arrested Gregorio Rodriguez and Englis Perez, both citizens of the Dominican Republic, upon the discovery of 38 bales containing approximately 1,103 kilograms of cocaine.
HSI special agents took custody of the individuals and the contraband and the investigation is ongoing.
Those arrested were transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo awaiting the outcome of their case.
If convicted, Rodriguez and Perez could face a sentence from 10 years up to life in prison.
How Paris Became Paris
Nonfiction book by Joan DeJean
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Paris was known for isolated monuments but had not yet put its brand on urban space. Like other European cities, it was still emerging from its medieval past. But in a mere century Paris would be transformed into the modern and mythic city we know today.
Though most people associate the signature characteristics of Paris with the public works of the nineteenth century, Joan DeJean demonstrates that the Parisian model for urban space was in fact invented two centuries earlier, when the first complete design for the French capital was drawn up and implemented. As a result, Paris saw many changes. It became the first city to tear down its fortifications, inviting people in rather than keeping them out. Parisian urban planning showcased new kinds of streets, including the original boulevard, as well as public parks and the earliest sidewalks and bridges without houses. Venues opened for urban entertainment of all kinds, from opera and ballet to a pastime invented in Paris, recreational shopping. Parisians enjoyed the earliest public transportation and street lighting, and Paris became Europe’s first great walking city.
A century of planned development made Paris both beautiful and exciting. It gave people reasons to be out in public as never before and as nowhere else. And it gave Paris its modern identity as a place that people dreamed of seeing. By 1700, Paris had become the capital that would revolutionize our conception of the city and of urban life.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Suzanne Wu, University of Southern California (USC):
That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette. In a new study that tracked a large sample of adults for nearly two decades, researchers have found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet — a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.
"There’s a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple. But the question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days, but can it help you survive to be 100?" said corresponding author Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones professor of biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute.
Not only is excessive protein consumption linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources — including meat, milk and cheese — are also more susceptible to early death in general, revealed the study published today in Cell Metabolism. Protein lovers were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period than their more low-protein counterparts. They were also several times more likely to die of diabetes.
But how much protein one should eat has long been a controversial topic — muddled by the popularity of protein-heavy diets such as Paleo and Atkins. Before this study, researchers had never shown a definitive correlation between high-protein consumption and mortality risk.
Rather than look at adulthood as one monolithic phase of life, as other researchers have done, the latest study considers how biology changes as we age and how decisions in middle life may play out across the human life span.
In other words, what’s good for you at one age may be damaging at another. Protein controls the growth hormone IGF-I, which helps our bodies grow but has been linked to cancer susceptibility. Levels of IGF-I drop off dramatically after age 65, leading to potential frailty and muscle loss. The study shows that while high-protein intake during middle age is very harmful, it is protective for older adults: those over 65 who ate a moderate- or high-protein diet were less susceptible to disease.
The latest paper draws from Longo’s past research on IGF-I, including on an Ecuadorian cohort that seemed to have little cancer or diabetes susceptibility because of a genetic mutation that lowered levels of IGF-I; the members of the cohort were all less than five-feet tall.
"The research shows that a low-protein diet in middle age is useful for preventing cancer and overall mortality, through a process that involves regulating IGF-I and possibly insulin levels," said co-author Eileen Crimmins, holder of the AARP Chair in Gerontology at USC. "However, we also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid a low-protein diet to allow the maintenance of healthy weight and protection from frailty."
Crucially, the researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, did not seem to have the same mortality effects as animal proteins. Rates of cancer and death also did not seem to be affected by controlling for carbohydrate or fat consumption, suggesting that animal protein is the main culprit.
"The majority of Americans are eating about twice as much proteins as they should, and it seems that the best change would be to lower the daily intake of all proteins but especially animal-derived proteins," Longo said. "But don’t get extreme in cutting out protein; you can go from protected to malnourished very quickly."
Longo’s findings support recommendations from several leading health agencies to consume about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day in middle age. For example, a 130-pound person should eat about 45 to 50 grams of protein a day, with preference for those derived from plants such as legumes, Longo explained.
The researchers defined a high-protein diet as deriving at least 20 percent of calories from protein, including both plant-based and animal-based protein. A "moderate" protein diet includes 10 to 19 percent of calories from protein, and a low-protein diet includes less than 10 percent protein.
Even moderate amounts of protein had detrimental effects during middle age, the researchers found. Across all 6,318 adults over the age of 50 in the study, average protein intake was about 16 percent of total daily calories with about two-thirds from animal protein — corresponding to data about national protein consumption. The study sample was representative across ethnicity, education and health backgrounds.
People who ate a moderate amount of protein were still three times more likely to die of cancer than those who ate a low-protein diet in middle age, the study showed. Overall, even the small change of decreasing protein intake from moderate levels to low levels reduced likelihood of early death by 21 percent.
For a randomly selected smaller portion of the sample — 2,253 people — levels of the growth hormone IGF-I were recorded directly. The results showed that for every 10 ng/ml increase in IGF-I, those on a high-protein diet were 9 percent more likely to die from cancer than those on a low-protein diet, in line with past research associating IGF-I levels to cancer risk.
The researchers also extended their findings about high-protein diets and mortality risk, looking at causality in mice and cellular models. In a study of tumor rates and progression among mice, the researchers showed lower cancer incidence and 45 percent smaller average tumor size among mice on a low-protein diet than those on a high-protein diet by the end of the two-month experiment.
"Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancer cell in them at some point. The question is: Does it progress?" Longo said. "Turns out one of the major factors in determining if it does is protein intake."
Nonfiction book by Carl Hoffman
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
The mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world and his powerful, influential family guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story.
Despite exhaustive searches, no trace of Rockefeller was ever found. Soon after his disappearance, rumors surfaced that he'd been killed and ceremonially eaten by the local Asmat — a native tribe of warriors whose complex culture was built around sacred, reciprocal violence, head hunting, and ritual cannibalism. The Dutch government and the Rockefeller family denied the story, and Michael's death was officially ruled a drowning. Yet doubts lingered. Sensational rumors and stories circulated, fueling speculation and intrigue for decades. The real story has long waited to be told — until now.
Retracing Rockefeller's steps, award-winning journalist Carl Hoffman traveled to the jungles of New Guinea, immersing himself in a world of headhunters and cannibals, secret spirits and customs, and getting to know generations of Asmat. Through exhaustive archival research, he uncovered never-before-seen original documents and located witnesses willing to speak publically after fifty years.
In Savage Harvest he finally solves this decades-old mystery and illuminates a culture transformed by years of colonial rule, whose people continue to be shaped by ancient customs and lore. Combining history, art, colonialism, adventure, and ethnography, Savage Harvest is a mesmerizing whodunit, and a fascinating portrait of the clash between two civilizations that resulted in the death of one of America's richest and most powerful scions.
Monday, March 3, 2014
It is time to retire the worn-out cliché "wrong side of history." According to research by Fred R. Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, the phrase appeared in 1,485 articles in 2012 and more than 1,800 articles in 2013.
President Obama on Monday condemned Russia for being "on the wrong side of history" in the Ukrainian conflict and urged Congress to work with him on a package of assistance for the Ukrainian people.
While Russia has strong historic ties to Ukraine and those interests can be recognized, the president said, "what cannot be done is for Russia with impunity to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles that are recognized around the world.
"The strong condemnation that it's received from around the world indicates the degree to which Russia is on the wrong side of history on this," he said.Personal Comment:
It is time to retire the worn-out cliché "wrong side of history." According to research by Fred R. Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, the phrase appeared in 1,485 articles in 2012 and more than 1,800 articles in 2013.
Nonfiction book by Peter Stark
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
In the tradition of The Lost City of Z and Skeleton in the Zahara, Astoria is the thrilling, true-adventure tale of the 1810 Astor Expedition, an epic, now forgotten, three-year journey to forge an American empire on the Pacific Coast. Peter Stark offers a harrowing saga in which a band of explorers battled nature, starvation, and madness to establish the first American settlement in the Pacific Northwest and opened up what would become the Oregon trail, permanently altering the nation's landscape and its global standing.
Six years after Lewis and Clark's began their journey to the Pacific Northwest, two of the Eastern establishment's leading figures, John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson, turned their sights to founding a colony akin to Jamestown on the West Coast and transforming the nation into a Pacific trading power. Author and correspondent for Outside magazine Peter Stark recreates this pivotal moment in American history for the first time for modern readers, drawing on original source material to tell the amazing true story of the Astor Expedition.
Unfolding over the course of three years, from 1810 to 1813, Astoria is a tale of high adventure and incredible hardship in the wilderness and at sea. Of the more than one hundred-forty members of the two advance parties that reached the West Coast — one crossing the Rockies, the other rounding Cape Horn — nearly half perished by violence. Others went mad. Within one year, the expedition successfully established Fort Astoria, a trading post on the Columbia River. Though the colony would be short-lived, it opened provincial American eyes to the potential of the Western coast and its founders helped blaze the Oregon Trail.
Comments from varsity drinkers at an American bar last weekend:
- Retired Airline Pilot: "Never underestimate the propaganda skills of people in the Middle East. They spread Islam and Christianity around the world, didn't they?"
- Shopkeeper: "How can you advocate democracy without advocating free markets? In both cases, you are letting the people decide."
- Novelist: "Creativity is simply asking questions and answering them."
- Stockbroker: "Nobody has to die from cancer. All we need to do to eliminate it as a cause of death is to change the definition of the word cancer to something like 'a fictitious disease on the planet Mars' and — poof! — nobody on Earth has cancer."
Sunday, March 2, 2014
From The New Yorker:
Radio Free Asia:
A group of knife-wielding attackers has killed 29 people and wounded up to 143 others at a train station in China's southwestern province of Yunnan, according to authorities Sunday, blaming the slashing rampage on Uyghur "separatist forces" in the far western region of Xinjiang.Updates:
Police shot dead at least four of the estimated 10 black-clad attackers, detained one and were on the trail of the others, said the official Xinhua news agency, which described the incident late Saturday in Yunnan's Kunming as "China's 9/11," comparing it to the deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.
Little Demon in the City of Light
Nonfiction book by Steven Levingston
Little Demon in the City of Light is the thrilling — and so wonderfully French — story of a gruesome 1889 murder of a lascivious court official at the hands of a ruthless con man and his pliant mistress and the international manhunt, sensational trial, and an inquiry into the limits of hypnotic power that ensued.
In France at the end of the nineteenth century a great debate raged over the question of whether someone could be hypnotically compelled to commit a crime in violation of his or her moral convictions. When Toussaint-Augustin Gouffé entered 3, rue Tronson du Coudray, he expected nothing but a delightful assignation with the comely young Gabrielle Bompard. Instead, he was murdered — hanged! — by her and her companion Michel Eyraud. The body was then stuffed in a trunk and dumped on a riverbank near Lyon.
As the inquiry into the guilt or innocence of the woman the French tabloids dubbed the "Little Demon" escalated, the most respected minds in France debated whether Gabrielle Bompard was the pawn of her mesmerizing lover or simply a coldly calculating murderess. And, at the burning center of it all: Could hypnosis force people to commit crimes against their will?