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Crimes of the Century: A Selective History of Infamy

Murder, mayhem, and mystery: 12 real-life crimes that capture our imagination.

Crimes of the Century: A Selective History of Infamy is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 27.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from An interesting review of some grisly past crimes This is a very interesting collection of stories that sound like plotlines of horror movies, except that they are true. There are illustrations, but they are not graphic at all. Some of the verbal descriptions, on the other hand, are quite graphic, but only to the extent necessary to tell the story. The professor has a casual speaking style, and does a good job holding the listener's attention as he explains the background and circumstances of each event. Some of the events are well known, such as the Manson murders. Others are obscure. All offer some insight into the sad and twisted world of violence. The series is not for the squeamish, but otherwise, I recommend it without reservation.
Date published: 2024-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If you like crime history, this is one of the best This professor holds your attention and challenges your investigative mind. Professor Spence presents this course with unbelievable facts and knowledge and his personal insight contributes to the overall fascination and understanding of these horrific crimes. He is such and excellet speaker, presenter and extemely knowledgeable of this very complex horrifying topic.
Date published: 2023-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A very enjoyable watch Interesting and at times thought provoking, my husband and I have both enjoyed watching these together.
Date published: 2022-09-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Crimes of the century, selective history of infamy It wasn’t what I expected. I expected more definitive details that prove who committed the crimes
Date published: 2022-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Entertaining I really liked this series and hope they add more episodes.
Date published: 2022-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great information! Crimes that everyone has heard about and crimes that almost on one has heard about are the fascinating focus of this course. Even in the well known cases the professor supplies further information that is mostly unknown and helps clarify the problems faced by the original investigators. It was especially interesting to delve into the courses that I had never heard of such as those in France and Italy. Helped me realize the serious crime is not just an American problem but a problem of human nature.
Date published: 2022-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriguing Series! I watched the lectures while ago and want to keep a review. I really enjoyed the series of lectures, and specially professor is very good at delivering the subject matter with some wit. I would like to recommend it for viewers interested in criminology
Date published: 2022-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative The course is not for the weak of heart, as it deals with some of the worst crimes and the worst in people. Thoroughly enjoyed it however, and the Professor is extremely easy to listen to.
Date published: 2022-03-20
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Overview

Delve into some of the most infamous, ghastly, and mysterious crimes of the last hundred-odd years in Crimes of the Century: A Selective History of Infamy. Taught by Professor Richard B. Spence of the University of Idaho, this enthralling course gives you a dozen case studies of murders most foul. From an intriguing Irish domestic murder to a world-shaking political assassination, survey some of the most heinous crimes in modern history.

About

Richard B. Spence

A key theme is that human history, behavior and reality are governed not by what we know but by what we believe.

INSTITUTION

University of Idaho

Richard B. Spence is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Idaho. He holds a PhD in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he also taught as a visiting assistant professor. His research areas include Russian and military history, espionage, occultism, secret societies, anti-Semitism, and true crime. He is the author of several books, including Trust No One: The Secret World of Sidney Reilly and Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult. He has also been a contributor for HISTORY®.

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Trailer

A Murder That Almost Killed Hollywood

01: A Murder That Almost Killed Hollywood

Unsolved murders are as compelling as anything you might see in the movies. It is fitting then that our first “crime of the century” is the mysterious murder of a Hollywood director in 1922. William Desmond Taylor was not who he seemed to be, and his death continues to fascinate a century later.

27 min
The Deadly Irish Fairy Tale of 1895

02: The Deadly Irish Fairy Tale of 1895

The ghastly murder of Bridget Cleary in turn-of-the-century Ireland takes us into the mystery of human psychology. On the surface, it seems her husband, Michael, murdered her because he believed she was a “changeling” fairy in disguise. Could he really have believed that? Was he mad? Why else could have driven this murder?

26 min
The Sarajevo Conspiracy of 1914

03: The Sarajevo Conspiracy of 1914

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip was one of the most world-shaking events in the 20th century. Although the events are clear and well-known, the motivation behind the murder is rife with conspiracy. Dive into a cycle of mystery and violence in early 20th-century Sarajevo.

29 min
The Plot to Assassinate the Romanovs

04: The Plot to Assassinate the Romanovs

Shift your attention to another political conspiracy—the murder of the Russian Tsar Nicholas and other Romanovs at the hands of the Bolsheviks. For more than a century, the facts of this murder have been dissected and debated. As you will learn, time has added few facts but plenty of speculation and myth.

27 min
Three Serial Killers of Weimar Germany

05: Three Serial Killers of Weimar Germany

Weimar Republic Germany is a wrenching period to read about: a failed state, a political and economic roller coaster, and a psychologically traumatized era suffering a plague of madmen, sex fiends, and serial killers. Here, you will survey three Weimar-era murder cases: the sadistic Peter Kürten, the “butcher” Fritz Haarmann, and the unsolved Hinterkaifeck Murders.

28 min
American Nightmare: The Lindbergh Kidnapping

06: American Nightmare: The Lindbergh Kidnapping

Delve into one of the best-known and most debated murder cases in American history. Richard Hauptmann—dubbed “the most hated man in the world”—was executed for kidnapping and killing aviator Charles Lindbergh’s baby, but did he act alone? Who received the ransom money? What exactly happened in 1932?

27 min
Murderous Maids: The Papin Sisters of France

07: Murderous Maids: The Papin Sisters of France

When it comes to murder, “why-dunnit” often can be more captivating than “who-dunnit.” Case in point is the murder of a well-to-do French woman and her daughter at the hands of two maids who were discovered cowering in the attic and covered in blood. What drove the Papin sisters to kill, and to kill so savagely?

27 min
The Moscow-to-Mexico Mission to Kill Trotsky

08: The Moscow-to-Mexico Mission to Kill Trotsky

As we have seen, political assassinations are rife with conspiracy, and often leave a flashing question mark in the history books. Here, you examine the murder of Leon Trotsky, a Soviet leader exiled in Mexico. What appears on the surface to be a seamless plot to kill a political rival owes much to chance, as well as Trotsky’s own stubborn nature.

29 min
California’s Zodiac Killer

09: California’s Zodiac Killer

More than 50 years later, the Zodiac case remains as cold as the chilly night this infamous serial killer slayed the first victims. Like an American Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac killer maintains a grip on our imagination because the killer might still be out there—somewhere. Review what we know about this captivating crime spree.

27 min
The Charles Manson Crime Family

10: The Charles Manson Crime Family

Despite countless books, films, and documentaries, the Manson murders still have unanswered questions and unsolved mysteries. Like so many crimes of the century, the question isn’t who, but why? Explore the information, and misinformation, about the Helter Skelter murders that ended the 1960s.

29 min
Son of Sam: New York’s Tabloid Terrorist

11: Son of Sam: New York’s Tabloid Terrorist

Step into the sweltering world of New York City in the 1970s, where social misfit David Berkowitz committed a series of murders, and then claimed he was possessed by an evil spirit and was part of a Satanic cult. Like the Manson murders and the Zodiac killer, the “Son of Sam” spree poses difficult questions about psychology and the nature of evil.

28 min
Italy’s Search for the Monster of Florence

12: Italy’s Search for the Monster of Florence

Round out your course with one final murder spree in the rolling hills of Tuscany. Over 18 years, Il Mostro di Firenze committed eight double homicides that remain unsolved today despite 100,000 men investigating and a dozen arrests over the years. Was this spree the product of one killer or many? What could have been the motivations?

28 min