The Thief-Taker Hangings: How Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Wild, and Jack Sheppard Captivated London and Created the Celebrity Criminal


Product Details

$26.95  $25.06
Lyons Press
Publish Date
6.25 X 9.33 X 1.06 inches | 1.23 pounds

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About the Author

Aaron Skirboll is the author of The Pittsburgh Cocaine Seven and has written about America's first professional songwriter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ernest Hemingway's last days for American Way magazine, and the history of the phone booth and cell phone etiquette for The Morning News. He lives in Pennsylvania.


"Skirboll shows the lives and trials of Londoners from all classes. . . . Though this is not a Defoe biography, his background and career producing pamphlets and newspapers are vital. . . . His exclusive interviews of felons in Newgate and other London prisons truly changed the face of journalism. . . . The daring cleverness of both Wild and Sheppard makes for fun historical reading."--Kirkus Reviews"Aaron Skirboll's fascinating book will whisk you vividly back into history, capturing the zeal and aesthetic of the period. Equally satisfying, he delivers on the subtitle and smashes the mark. Intensely readable history like this is as hard to find as an incredibly textured story like this. Skirboll has penned an Edgar contender: He's taken a slice of crime history and turned it into an instant classic, with a reporter's nosy eye and a novelist's flare for storytelling. The book is all at once compelling, engaging, skillfully crafted, but also energized by a layered subject that could have been ripped from today's sensational headlines." --M. William Phelps, New York Times-bestselling author of Murder, New England and The Devil's Rooming House and star of the Investigation Discovery series Dark Minds"The Thief-Taker Hangings is history that reads like exciting fiction. This is a compelling story, wonderfully researched, that takes you deep into the seamy London of Restoration England through the intertwined stories of thief-taker Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard, the greatest escape artist of the day, and their lowlife molls, all of them known to Daniel Defoe, who covered the scene. Skirboll captures all of this with a human touch that gives his account an added compassion worthy of John Gay and Bertold Brecht."--Peter Rand, author of Conspiracy of One"Aaron Skirboll skillfully weaves together the lives and times of Daniel Defoe, who invented the English novel and literary true crime journalism, and two infamous criminals whose stories he told, Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard. From coffeehouse to prison, from high life to low, The Thief-Taker Hangings brings early eighteenth-century London vividly to life." --Peter Kobel, author of The Strange Case of the Mad Professor
A rollicking romp through London's underbelly, Skirboll's rich, multilayered account reveals the birth of society's fascination with criminals.--Publishers Weekly
The daring cleverness of both Wild and Sheppard makes for fun historical reading.--Kirkus
Fans of both fictional and true crime stories will enjoy this fresh, well-written, and captivating page-turner full of fascinating characters engaged in a fast-moving plot.--Library Journal
Part history, part true-crime, this account of London's celebrity criminals is fresh and captivating.--The Lima News