The Death Instinct

The Death Instinct

Book - 2011
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A spellbinding literary thriller about terror, war, greed, and the darkest secrets of the human soul, by the author of the million-copy bestseller The Interpretation of Murder .

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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Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2011.
ISBN: 9781594487828
Branch Call Number: RUBEN
Characteristics: 464 p.


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Jun 03, 2016

Author is an idiot, refers to Archduke Fedinand as "Hans Ferdinand".

Hope his legal research skills exceed those employed for the historical research for this novel.

Oct 24, 2013

I just started but am not impressed at all. He may be an expert on Freud but he knows nothing of the social mores of the 1920's: a single, young woman keeping company with a single man, not her relative, staying in a hotel alone? Never would have happened. Conversations are too modern in tone and subject. The whole story sounds like a movie script; how a contemporary director would present early 20th century terrorism to a modern, under-educated audience.

deda_roger Apr 05, 2013

Loved it! It wasn't as disturbing as The Interpretation of Murder, and was full of interesting facts. Couldn't put it down, literally. I'm a sucker for historical novels, especially the ones that are so well written and researched.

Jan 07, 2012

Good period piece. Very fast moving action. It gives you some interesting tidbits on Freud, politics and science.

lizmacc Feb 15, 2011

This book was not as good as I had hoped. Conviluted in parts, it wanders all over tha map (literally). While the main premise of the book is a bombing in the NY financial district there is a whole subplot involving Freud that just doesn't seem to fit in.
The book was just ok.

debwalker Feb 05, 2011

These days, Jed Rubenfeld is best known as the husband of “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua, but this Yale law professor deserves to stand on his own. He’s an expert on many things, including Sigmund Freud, who appeared in his previous novel. The Death Instinct, which begins with the very real bombing of Wall Street in 1920, takes us back in time as First World War veteran Stratham Younger attempts to solve both the bombing and the mystery of a mute young boy. Freud does appear, and the action moves from New York to Europe. Like many academics, Rubenfeld loves research and bits of the arcane, and there’s certainly lots of that here. But it worked for me, as does his rather formal language.

Margaret Cannon

"Witnessing the 1920 Wall Street bombing are Great War veteran Stratham Younger (one of the central characters of The Interpretation of Murder), his long-lost friend James Littlemore of the New York Police Department, and beautiful French radiochemist Colette Rousseau. Also at the scene are an almost supernatural collection of strange, deeply threatening women, one of whom is killed in the blast.

It is an explosive start to a novel with a plot that moves with tremendous pace and power. Rubenfeld has been described as one of the most elegant legal writers of his generation, and his descriptions of the New York of two generations ago are a joy.

Stratham Younger remains an enthusiastic acolyte of Sigmund Freud, so the newly emerging science of psychiatry is woven tightly into the story, as it was in The Interpretation of Murder. There is a real sense of recent trauma, too – the 1st World War is only just over, as is the deadly global influenza epidemic that followed. Prohibition has just begun. Stratham, James and Colette, dazed by the Wall Street bombing, are about to enter a damaged – and dangerous - new world."
Richard and Judy Book Club

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