CRIME—IS AMERICA LESS OPEN THAN IT WAS 100 YEARS AGO? Bill James, who revolutionized thinking about baseball, has a new book out: POPULAR CRIME. I bought it because I want to read anything by Bill James, but it’s also a subject I’m interested in. (The New York Post, which has good coverage of popular crime, is the newspaper of record in our house.) The book has a lot of insights into the history of famous American crimes, but I found myself taking issue with some of the generalizations. For one, James tells the story of Erich Muenter, a Harvard lecturer who murdered his wife in 1906 and escaped to Mexico. He turned up in 1915 planting a bomb in the United States Capitol Building and then shooting and wounding J.P. Morgan. Bill James says: “In the story of Muenter and Morgan, what most strikes me is the astonishing openness of American society at that time.” He points out that Muenter was able—under the assumed name of “Frank Holt”—to re-enter the country without a passport, to get another position at an Ivy league school without a legitimate resume, and to buy and carry guns and dynamite. He was then able to launch his attacks on the Capitol and J.P. Morgan. James says that you couldn’t do what Muenter did in modern America. Security for government buildings and important people may be greater, but I think that this is still a country with a lot of openness for criminals and others to begin new lives. Clark Rockefeller is a good example.

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