While the City Slept by Eli Sanders, 2016

while the city selptAmazon Link

A true crime story about an attack on a lesbian couple by a mentally ill young man.  The story traces the lives of the two victims and the perpetrator in the years leading up to the attack, alternating between a love story and a slide into violent delusion.

The reporting is up-close and engaging, and involves detailed accounts of the events leading up to the attack, the endless legal proceedings, and the missed opportunities for intervention that may have prevented the incident.

In hindsight, it’s shocking that the perpetrator was not hospitalized or institutionalized.  Sanders makes a strong case that preventative services for individuals with these kinds of serious disturbances are underfunded and ignored, eventually leading to devastating costs and consequences.

While the story is engaging and never boring, I didn’t feel much of a connection with the victims, or compassion for the perpetrator.  I was hoping for a comprehensible explanation of the situation, but essentially it boils down to a genetic predisposition for mental illness, an abusive family life as a child, and a lack of mental health interventions—nothing cosmic or meaningful.

Ideas per Page:1 2/10 (low)

Related Books: for viewing perpetrators as victims of a sort: Incognito by David Eagleman, Waking Up by Sam Harris

Recommend to Others: No, unless you were previously interested in the case

Reread Personally:   No

1 A measure of the number of new or distinct ideas introduced per page. 10/10 would be conceptually dense, like a textbook. 1/10 would be almost completely fluff.


One thought on “While the City Slept by Eli Sanders, 2016

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