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Crime Stories of Cultural Significance

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Crime Stories of Cultural Significance

The Kent State University Press, which publishes two journals as well as 20–30 books each year, is known for a variety of fields including history, literature and regional studies—and a series of current books about true crime history for both a general and scholarly audience.

The spark for developing the True Crime History Series was Albert Borowitz’s Blood and Ink: An International Guide to Fact-Based Crime Literature, which The Kent State University Press published in 2002. His 586-page annotated bibliography provides a broad selection of true crime accounts from the 17th through 20th centuries, as well as literary works based on true crime incidents. It includes books from his extensive personal library, which he and his wife, Helen Osterman Borowitz, began donating to Kent State in 1989.

In 2003, the Press engaged Albert Borowitz as its true crime history editor, and the first books in the series were published in 2005.

Susan Wadsworth-Booth, director of The Kent State University Press, says the Press has a reputation for publishing books that are highly researched and well documented, including those devoted to true crime. That reputation and a surge in the general public’s interest have raised the publisher’s profile among fans of the genre.

Books in the True Crime History Series often are featured on the popular literary website CrimeReads. They also have been featured on true crime podcasts, and a few have been licensed for film or TV rights. One of the series’ authors, James Badal, has appeared on Court TV to discuss cases in his books.

Wadsworth-Booth says the Press has become known among writers for publishing books on intriguing and thought-provoking crime cases. That has resulted in an increase in book proposals, not all of which meet the publisher’s standards. “We don’t want to publish books that are just sensational or ‘ripped from the headlines,’” she says. “We are committed to true crime stories that are genuinely significant in historical terms—those that have important context in cultural, psychological, sociological, political or legal areas.

“I believe that these stories, in part, show us both the best and worst of human nature, and we can all identify with that in some way,” she adds. “I also think we all want to understand mystery. What are the cultural and sociological factors that fed into this act of violence, or what factors led to someone being accused or prosecuted? What can we learn about our systems of justice, of checks and balances, that can help explain our current culture? And, of course, are there people in these stories with whom we sympathize? That’s the part that most captures my imagination.”

See the current catalog in the True Crime History Series.

POSTED: Friday, August 26, 2022 - 11:25am
UPDATED: Friday, August 26, 2022 - 2:39pm
By Candace Goforth DeSantis, BS ’94