Compulsion: A Novel

Fig Tree Books
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Judd Steiner and Artie Straus have it all: wealth, intelligence, and the world at their feet as part of the elite, upper-crust Jewish community of 1920s Chicago. Artie is handsome, athletic, and popular, but he possesses a hidden, powerful sadistic streak and a desire to dominate. Judd is a weedy introvert, a genius who longs for a companion whom he can idolize and worship. Obsessed with Nietzsche’s idea of the superhuman, both boys decide to prove that they are above the laws of man by arbitrarily picking and murdering a Jewish boy in their neighborhood.

This new edition of Meyer Levin's classic literary thriller Compulsion reintroduces the fictionalized case of Leopold and Loeb – once considered the "crime of the century" – to a new generation. This incisive psychological portrait of two young murderers seized the imagination of an era and is generally recognized as paving the way for the first non-fiction novel. Compulsion forces us to ask what drives some further into darkness, and some to seek redemption.

Heartbreaking as it is gripping, Compulsion is written with a tense and penetrating force that led the Los Angeles Times to call Levin, “the most significant Jewish writer of his times.”
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About the author

Meyer Levin (1905 - 1981) was called by the Los Angeles Times "the most significant American Jewish writer of his times." Norman Mailer referred to him as "one of the best American writers working in the realistic tradition." Throughout his 60 years of professional work, Levin was a constant innovator, reinventing himself and stretching his literary style with remarkable versatility.

When Levin died in 1981 he left behind a remarkable and diverse body of work that not only reflected the incredible life he led but chronicled the development of the entire Jewish consciousness during the 20th century.

Marcia Clark began practicing law as a criminal defense attorney. She became a prosecutor in the L.A. District Attorney's Office in 1981, and spent ten years in the Special Trials Unit where she handled a number of high profile cases prior to the O.J. Simpson case, including the prosecution of stalker/murderer Robert Bardo, whose conviction for the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer resulted in legislation that offered victims better protection from stalkers as well as increased punishment for the offenders.

She has published three novels which feature Los Angeles Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight - Guilt by Association, Guilt by Degrees, and Killer Ambition and is currently at work on her fourth novel.

Gabriel Levin has published five collections of poetry, most recently Coming Forth By Day (Carcanet, 2014) and a collection of essays The Dune's Twisted Edge: Journeys in the Levant (The University of Chicago Press, 2013). He has as well published several collections of translation, including a selection of Yehuda Halevi's poetry, Poems from the Diwan (Anvil, 2002). He lives in Jerusalem.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Fig Tree Books
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Published on
Apr 14, 2015
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Pages
480
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ISBN
9781941493038
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Crime
Fiction / Jewish
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Thrillers / Historical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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The Old Bunch chronicles the lives of nineteen Jewish men and women on Chicago’s west side, a spawling-yet-intimate portrait of American life during the Great Depression, by an author the LA Times hailed as “the most significant American Jewish writer of his time.”

Among the various lives depicted so vividly are those of Joe Feeman, a wayward artist who loses the love of his life to a doctor whose future path is as clear as Joe’s is uncertain. Sam Eisen appears to be following a stable path into law, but in actuality his contempt for the conformist lifestyles of his friends is second only to the distain he feels for the very life he has chosen. Sol Meisel starts out pursuing his dreams of becoming a professional athlete, before settling down to join his father’s business. Interweaving storylines of rebellion and growing up, Levin unsentimentally generates a worldview that is striking in its pre-World War II innocence, while also clearly delineating the old world from the new.

The Old Bunch is one of the great novels of and about the interwar period. Both of its time and remarkably fresh, it is an outstanding achievement by a preeminent American writer.

Norman Mailer referred to Levin as “one of the best American writers working in the realistic tradition.” Ernest Hemingway called his book Citizens “a fine American novel – one of the best I ever read.” In 1957, Levin won the Special Edgar Award for his book Compulsion, the renowned account of the Leopold and Loeb murders and the basis for the 20th Century Fox motion picture.

This edition has been authorized by the Estate of Meyer Levin.
REVIEWS
“The Old Bunch is written in good hard-driving colloquial prose, and is full of sharp characterizations... A very fine novel with the speed and lustiness and brawling of the world’s fourth largest city.” --New Republic
“A landmark in the development of the realistic novel... incident by incident it makes vivid and exciting reading... it brilliantly succeeds in taking the reader on a memorable tour of the world in which the “old bunch” lived.” --NY Timesbrbr
Acclaimed as the Jewish War and Peace, The Settlers, along with its sequel The Harvest, marks the crowning achievement of the author Norman Mailer hailed as “one of the best American writers working in the realistic tradition.”

At the turn of the twentieth century, Feigel and Yankel Chaimovitch are among the many Russian Jews caught up in the nascent revolution. Worried that their two oldest children, Reuven and Leah, could be rounded up into a pogrom, Feigel and Yankel allow them to scout out if their ancient homeland, Eretz Yisroel, is the refuge they’re searching for. Soon, Leah and Reuven write with promising news: all is good, and Eretz Yisroel is a land of unparalleled beauty. Buoyed by the good reports, the Chaimovitch family flees Russia to begin anew.

Yet not everything is as easy as Leah’s reports had made it sound. The pioneers face innumerable hardships: poverty, disease, grueling physical labor, and tensions with their Arab neighbors that often erupt into violence. Even within their own ranks there are frequent conflicts, especially between new arrivals and established settlers. And as World War I escalates, each family member -- from second-oldest son Gidon, struggling through the disastrous Gallipoi campaign, to Leah, awaiting the return of her fickle Moshe -- struggles to build a life and a future.

Drawing on personal experience and decades of research, Meyer Levin blends true-life figures and events into an epic that is at once a riveting historical document and a superb literary achievement.
The Old Bunch chronicles the lives of nineteen Jewish men and women on Chicago’s west side, a spawling-yet-intimate portrait of American life during the Great Depression, by an author the LA Times hailed as “the most significant American Jewish writer of his time.”

Among the various lives depicted so vividly are those of Joe Feeman, a wayward artist who loses the love of his life to a doctor whose future path is as clear as Joe’s is uncertain. Sam Eisen appears to be following a stable path into law, but in actuality his contempt for the conformist lifestyles of his friends is second only to the distain he feels for the very life he has chosen. Sol Meisel starts out pursuing his dreams of becoming a professional athlete, before settling down to join his father’s business. Interweaving storylines of rebellion and growing up, Levin unsentimentally generates a worldview that is striking in its pre-World War II innocence, while also clearly delineating the old world from the new.

The Old Bunch is one of the great novels of and about the interwar period. Both of its time and remarkably fresh, it is an outstanding achievement by a preeminent American writer.

Norman Mailer referred to Levin as “one of the best American writers working in the realistic tradition.” Ernest Hemingway called his book Citizens “a fine American novel – one of the best I ever read.” In 1957, Levin won the Special Edgar Award for his book Compulsion, the renowned account of the Leopold and Loeb murders and the basis for the 20th Century Fox motion picture.

This edition has been authorized by the Estate of Meyer Levin.
REVIEWS
“The Old Bunch is written in good hard-driving colloquial prose, and is full of sharp characterizations... A very fine novel with the speed and lustiness and brawling of the world’s fourth largest city.” --New Republic
“A landmark in the development of the realistic novel... incident by incident it makes vivid and exciting reading... it brilliantly succeeds in taking the reader on a memorable tour of the world in which the “old bunch” lived.” --NY Timesbrbr
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