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Educate Yourself: Amanda Knox Reading List

By Amy Mikel in Miscellaneous on Oct 14, 2011 2:25AM

Although Amanda Knox is now nestled safely in West Seattle, the dust has not come close to settling on the complex repercussions set in motion by the murder of Meredith Kercher. Giuliano Mignini has stated that he plans to appeal the appellate court verdict to the Italian Supreme Court. Rudy Guede now hopes to be granted a retrial. There are civil cases yet unsettled. Lawyers for the families of Amanda and Rafaelle may file a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit against the Italian government.

To date, this case has inspired a handful of books, a made-for-TV movie, several dedicated blogs and thousands of articles. For those truly interested in sorting through the facts, how can one to hope to keep it all straight? Complicating matters is the media, which continues to report widely accepted mistruths, and the fact that there are some details that even those close to the case still don’t know for sure. But if you start with the following Seattlest-recommended reading list, which constitutes as a sort of authoritative canon of this whole tragic mess, you’ll at least be an educated bystander as events almost certainly continue to drag on.

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezzi
Grand Central Publishing (June 10, 2008)

Long before Amanda Knox was a name, best-selling thriller writer Douglas Preston had the pleasure of an entanglement with Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini. Preston has since become an outspoken and effective advocate for Amanda Knox’s innocence and mistreatment under Mignini’s investigation techniques. Read Preston’s book to understand why (also gives context to Mignini’s 2010 conviction on abusive of office charges related to the "Monster of Florence" case). Also: Preston pontificates in the Daily Mail about the Italian concept of saving face, or la faccia.

Murder in Italy: The Shocking Slaying of a British Student, the Accused American Girl, and an International Scandal by Candace Dempsey
Berkley; 1st edition (April 27, 2010)

Local journalist Candace Dempsey began blogging this case days after the story drifted overseas. Her subsequent two-year investigation resulted in the earliest book to take a thoroughly factual approach to the cast of characters, timeline, material and circumstantial evidence (our review here, interview with Dempsey here). Written in the style of the “true crime” genre, this quick read remains one of the best ways to chronologically comprehend the events up to and after Meredith’s murder. (In light of the acquittals, expect a new closing chapter in a second printing of the book).

The Guede Micheli Motivations Report
(Italian-language version) Released in January 2009

After sending Rudy Guede to prision for 30 years for his role in Meredith's sexual assualt and murder, sentencing judge Paolo Micheli released a 106-page report summarizing the rationale of the court. To my knowledge, this document, readily available to the Italian public and press, has never been translated into English. True Justice for Meredith Kercher has a series of blog posts summarizing the main points of the report.

The Knox/Sollecito Massei Motivations Report
(Italian-language version) Released in March 2010

In March 2010, Judge Giancarlo Massei and Assistant Judge Beatrice Cristiani released a 427-page report (commonly referred to as the "Massei report") explaining the circumstantial and material evidence which led to the convictions of Amanda and Rafaelle in December 2009. Within months, a team of volunteers had translated the document into English and made it freely available on the web. Easily a third of the report is dedicated to the now-crumbled cornerstone of the prosecution’s case: the forensic analysis of the kitchen knife and Meredith’s bra clasp. You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know--and more--about the knife wounds on Meredith’s neck, her final moments in life and the manner of her death. Also provides information about cell phone and computer activity, speculations on the alleged break-in, and liberal character analysis of the main cast and and supporting characters.

Injustice in Perugia by Bruce Fisher
Self-published (February 11, 2011)


Monster of Perugia: The Framing of Amanda Knox by Mark C. Waterbury Ph.D.
Self-published (January 26, 2011)

Early this year a press release announced a “one-two punch” to the convictions of Amanda and Rafaelle: two self-published books charging corruption and incompetence in the investigation and subsequent trial. The pair have many similarities. Authors Fisher and Waterbury had both established blogs dedicated to Amanda and Rafaelle’s innocence; in their books, both systematically challenge the same major points of the prosecution’s case, referring frequently back to the Massei report. Waterbury, with four science and engineering degrees, including a Ph.D. in materials science, is able to delve more deeply into DNA explanation and analysis; Fisher’s book brings a clearer overall focus.

The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox by Nina Burleigh
Broadway (August 2, 2011)

During the first trial, journalist Nina Burleigh lived in Perugia for nine months, attended trial sessions, interviewed Mignini, researched Rudy’s family history, studied Italian religious culture, corresponded with Amanda in prison and otherwise dug deeper under the surface than anyone had before. In Burleigh’s book, the focus is on how context, character and culture affected the outcome of the 2009 trial. What is Perugia’s history? Who is Giuliano Mignini? How did Rudy Guede grow up and what was his life like in the months leading up to Meredith’s murder? What doomed Amanda Knox? One Amazon reviewer said it all: [the book] “really painted an unbelievable picture, I felt like I was there, I felt emotional and angry, I wanted to tell Amanda to shut up.” Also: The New York Times tells of Burleigh's transition from objective journalist to Amanda Knox advocate.

Angel Face: Sex, Murder and The Inside Story of Amanda Knox by Barbie Nadeau
Beast Books (April 2010)
What Dempsey, Preston and Burleigh are to Amanda and Rafaelle's innocence, Barbie Nadeau was to their guilt. The Daily Beast's on-the-ground trial reporter in 2008 and 2009, Nadeau (who is fluent in Italian) took her information and impressions and published this short book shortly after the December 2009 convictions. Now, in the light of new or discredited evidence, a turning tide of public opinion and two overturned convictions, Nadeau has been forced on the defensive, saying, "I chronicled the details of a trial in which they were found guilty."

The Vecchiotti-Conti Report
(Italian-language version) Released in June 2011

The explanations in Mark Waterbury’s book lend a better understanding to the forensics analysis and conclusions in the final report by Profs. Carla Vecchiotti and Stefano Conti, the “independent experts” appointed by Judge Hellman in the appeals trial.

Here, the experts’ assignment from the court was twofold: 1. If possible, by means of a new technical analysis, re-test for DNA on the bra clasp and the knife 2. If not possible, evaluate the reliability of the genetic analysis of the Polizia Scientifica in regards to the bra clasp and the knife. The report makes their scientific conclusion quite clear; alternately, so does the conclusions page.