The Death Instinct: Book summary and reviews of The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld

The Death Instinct

By Jed Rubenfeld

The Death Instinct
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2011,
    480 pages.

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Book Summary

Under a clear blue September sky, America's financial center in lower Manhattan became the site of the largest, deadliest terrorist attack in the nation's history. It was September 16, 1920. Four hundred people were killed or injured. The country was appalled by the magnitude and savagery of the incomprehensible attack, which remains unsolved to this day.

The bomb that devastated Wall Street in 1920 explodes in the opening pages of The Death Instinct, Jed Rubenfeld's provocative and mesmerizing new novel. War veteran Dr. Stratham Younger and his friend Captain James Littlemore of the New York Police Department are caught on Wall Street on the fateful day of the blast. With them is the beautiful Colette Rousseau, a French radiochemist whom Younger meets while fighting in the world war. A series of inexplicable attacks on Rousseau, a secret buried in her past, and a mysterious trail of evidence lead Young, Littlemore, and Rousseau on a thrilling international and psychological journey-from Paris to Prague, from the Vienna home of Dr. Sigmund Freud to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., and ultimately to the hidden depths of our most savage instincts. As the seemingly disjointed pieces of what Younger and Littlemore learn come together, the two uncover the shocking truth behind the bombing.

Blending fact and fiction in a brilliantly convincing narrative, Jed Rubenfeld has forged a gripping historical mystery about a tragedy that holds eerie parallels to our own time.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Rubenfeld's debut, The Interpretation of Murder, proved his skillful use of historical detail to create a compelling tale of psychological suspense. He's only gotten better." - Library Journal

"The leads are witty, and the prose is elegant. But readers should prepare to wallow in the book and take it slowly." - Booklist

"An intriguing literary mystery mixing fact and fiction." - Kirkus

"Rubenfeld deftly wends his way through the shifting landscape with a historian's factual touch and a storyteller's eye for the dramatic and telling." - Publishers Weekly

"Jed Rubenfeld delivers a soul-searching narrative with complex and memorable characters. Not only is The Death Instinct a suspenseful story that pulls readers into its political and scientific intrigue, it is also a provocative meditation on the psychological and emotional ripple effects of war and terrorism." - Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow

"In The Death Instinct, Jed Rubenfeld masterfully weaves a sweeping story that moves from New York City to Paris to Vienna and back, illuminating with shocking and harrowing clarity the aftershock effects of the Great War on an entire generation. Anyone with a taste for mystery, political intrigue, and love in desperate circumstances will devour this enthralling novel." - Katherine Howe, author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Diane S.
The Death Instinct by Jeb Rubenfeld
Sequel to the Interpretation of murder taking place ten years later, a fantastic historical mystery centered around the Wall Street bombing of 1920. The First World War has ended, Freud has become famous and Madame Curie and her discovery of radium has had an impact on the medical field as well as used for a great deal of profit by nefarious industries. Centered around 3 main characters, taking place in America and Austria this is a wonderful story. I absolutely loved it.

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Author Information

Jed Rubenfeld Author Biography

Currently the Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law at Yale University, Jed Rubenfeld is one of this country’s foremost experts on constitutional law. As a Princeton undergraduate, he completed his thesis on Freud. At the Juilliard School, he studied Shakespeare. Rubenfeld lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife and two children.

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