American Crime Story: 6 Essential Books on the O.J. Simpson Trial
If the glove doesn't fit, must you acquit?
If you were a sentient being in the summer of 1994, the image of O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco traveling down the highway in Los Angeles may be forever burned into your brain, not to to mention the insane media coverage that followed over the subsequent months, in what would come to be known as the most infamous murder trial in the history of modern American criminal justice.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 21 years since the verdict. American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, which premiered last night on FX, revisits the notorious case. Created by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story), the show relies heavily on Jeffrey Toobin’s book on the trial, The Run of His Life, which was published in 1996. Though the show will undoubtedly be entertaining, it’s worth remembering these are true events, violent crimes, with real victims. Here are six essential books on the O.J. Simpson trial that will make you reconsider everything you think you know about the case.
The Run of His Life, by Jeffrey Toobin
Toobin’s account of the Simpson trial is considered by most to be the definitive version of the notorious trial, and was in fact used as the source material for American Crime Story. Expertly reported and published just one year after the verdict, Toobin goes in-depth with behind-the-scenes information that you didn’t hear despite the trial’s expansive media coverage. Compellingly written as any fictional crime thriller, the fact that this story is true just makes it all the more chilling to re-live.
If I Did It, by O.J. Simpson
The publication of this memoir allegedly authored by Simpson came with nearly as much controversy as the trial itself. When reports surfaced that the original book was, in fact, a confession of murder entitled I Did It that Simpson had written with the help of a ghostwriter, people were outraged. The Goldman family worked to have the rights to the book transferred to them, and the book was released with a new title, If I Did It. Many boycotted the book, which purported to present Simpson’s explanation of how, hypothetically, he would have murdered Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder, by Vincent Bugliosi
The prosecutor of the Manson trial and author of Helter Skelter Vincent Bugliosi tackles the Simpson trial in this no-holds-barred investigation into the case. By presenting the overwhelming amount of evidence against Simpson and revealing what he believes to be the errors of the prosecution and even the presiding judge, Bugliosi validates what many believe to be true: that the non-guilty verdict was a despicable miscarriage of justice.
American Tragedy: The Uncensored History of the O.J. Simpson Defense, by Lawrence Schiller and James Willwerth
Authors Lawrence Schiller and James Willwerth approach the Simpson case from the defense’s side, exploring how Simpson’s attorneys built his defense from day one, working tirelessly to present their client as a victim of racial prejudice to the jury. Evidence, such as Simpson’s lie-detector test, and what he was really doing in the Bronco, are also explored, as are the attitudes of Simpson’s own family, and what the defense re-arranged in Simpson’s home during a visit from the jury.
Without a Doubt, by Marcia Clark
Since the trial, Prosecutor Marcia Clark has served as a legal correspondent on several television programs, and made the transition into fiction, publishing four crime novels. Her 1998 memoir of the Simpson trial, Without a Doubt, is a compelling read that includes her experience dealing with the intense scrutiny of the case and personal attacks as the mother of two going through a public divorce. Ultimately, Clark concludes that the prosecution presented a strong case but failed to anticipate the influential role Simpson’s celebrity and race would have on the jury.
His Name is Ron, by Kim Goldman
Ron Goldman’s sister Kim Goldman has become an advocate for victim’s rights in the years following her brother’s murder. Her 1997 book His Name is Ron is Goldman’s attempt to bring attention to the plight of the Goldman family and to give a name and face to her brother, whose brutal murder she feels was overlooked by the media. The book also reveals aspects of the civil case against Simpson, and illuminates the importance of speaking out on the plight of the families of victims of violent crime.