Bio: The work of the American novelist Meyer Levin (1905-81) richly reflects his roots and his experience, both as a Jew in the 20th century and as a native of Chicago in its most vibrant days. Levin attended the University of Chicago, where, as a student reporter, he covered the sensational 1924 murder trial of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, in which Clarence Darrow defended the two young rich men who had killed 14-year-old Bobby Franks for the thrill of it. Upon graduation, Levin went to work fulltime for a newspaper, which inspired his first novel Reporter in 1929. His fiction carefully reflected the world he knew firsthand, such as The New Bridge (1933), The Old Bunch (1937) and Citizens (1940), all set among Russian-Jewish immigrants in Chicago.
With the publication of Yehuda in 1931--a novel set on a kibbutz in what was then Palestine--Levin became a noted chronicler of contemporary Jewish life. In the wake of World War II and the revelation of the Holocaust, that aspect of his work deepened. Both My Father's House (1947) and Eva (1959) deal with the drama of young people escaping Poland to Palestine. The Search, his autobiography, was published in 1950. In 1956, Levin returned to the Chicago of his youth to write Compulsion, a fictional account of the Loeb-Leopold trial. He subsequently adapted it as a play, which had a notable run on Broadway and was made into a successful film in 1959.
Levin's frustrated attempts to dramatize the diary of Anne Frank led him to write two novels (The Fanatic in 1964 and The Obsession in 1973) that dealt with his belief that his treatment of the material was rejected because of his strong anti-Communist stance. Much of his later life was spent in Israel, which inspired the novels Gore and Igor (1968), The Settlers (1972) and its sequel The Harvest (1978). Levin's last published work was The Architect (1982), in which he revisited early-20th-century Chicago in a fictionalized treatment of the life of Frank Lloyd Wright.
The 20th century was not very old when Chicago played host to what was freely billed "the crime of the century." It happened in 1924, when two rich young men kidnapped and murdered a boy simply to exercise what they believed to be their superior intellectual skills. Both Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were sons of wealthy Jewish families in Chicago, arrogant in their sense of entitlement, sure they were above the law. Their vicious kidnapping and killing of Bobby Franks horrified the world, and... more info>>