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The dynamite fiend : the chilling tale of a Confederate spy, con artist, and mas
Larabee, Ann
Adult Nonfiction E608.K37 L37 2005

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Before airplanes, ocean liners routinely carried hundreds of passengers, and they were ideal tools for some nefarious plots. Larabee charts the life of Scottish-Canadian Alexander Keith, the fiend of the title who, in 1875, put an end to ?an age of innocence that could not yet conceive of malevolent designs to destroy thousands of unwitting human beings in a single horrific stroke.? A genteel con man, absentee husband and former aid to Confederate blockade runners, Keith engineered the explosion that killed 81 people on a German ship in what was reviled as one of the century?s worst crimes. The book begins with an evocative account of the catastrophe, then backtracks to the beginning of Keith?s life to decipher how he came to be a ?gentleman bomber.? Though parts of this story, especially its climax, have been well documented, Keith?s aliases kept investigators from connecting all the dots. Larabee does so in this book, but while her historical sleuthing is extensive, she often embellishes on characters? supposed thoughts and feelings in a way that will frustrate readers wanting a more rigorous account. Also, in attempting to situate Keith in a historical context, she lingers on uneventful periods and minor players, such as the clock-makers Keith employed. While this history will appeal to those curious about the antecedents of modern terrorism, the book?s structure and prose prevent it from being a cohesive, powerful narrative. (June 13) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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