Saturday, June 29, 2019

Book Review: The Unabomber: Agent Kathy Puckett and the Hunt for a Serial Bomber by Bryan Denson

There's been a recent movement with mass killings and similar horrible, violent incidents in the news, to shift the story from the perpetrator, to the victims. This book totally gets behind that shift.

While of course it does also talk about Ted Kaczynski, it shows us all of the victims, and really focuses on Kathy Puckett. Kathy was an FBI profiler, and when she was brought into the case, many years into it, she had some different theories, and pursued different angles on the case. Early on investigators thought the first victim was the perpetrator, and all the information thereafter, including all profiles, fit him oddly well and ignored evidence. She threw out that idea and made a new profile that turned out to fit a man she'd never heard of and never met--Ted Kaczynski--to a T. She was also pivotal in the decision to ask the Washington Post to publish the Unabomber's manifesto, which proved the key in solving the case. She also knew that after the publication they couldn't let their guard down. The bomber may have claimed he'd stop bombing if it was published, but she didn't believe him. And once again, she was right.

Dr. Puckett was the agent most responsible for bringing him down, even if she didn't make the arrest. This book shows the inner workings of the FBI for interested kids (and shows it's not all busting down doors and gunfights), it gives a respectful and age-appropriate story of a true crime (a crazy-popular genre in media with adults right now), and it tells a fascinating story about a terrifying moment in our recent history that kids might hear about but won't learn about in their history classes.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-
related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Roaring Brook, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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