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A Death in Italy: The Definitive Account of the Amanda Knox Case Hardcover – Aug 21 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (Aug. 21 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250024242
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250024244
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 4.2 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #487,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“John Follain gives a riveting account of the whole affair, from the murder and trial to the electrifying appeals-court decision. Along the way, he offers a vivid portrait of the woman at the center of it all. . . . If people are indeed guilty for the good they did not do, from all one can see, very few in Perugia connected to this trial were innocent.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Follain has drawn upon the transcripts of Knox's lengthy trial and hundreds of interviews to give what may be the definitive account of the case. It's an ugly, confusing story but one he relates with clarity, compassion and a wealth of fascinating detail … Follain’s account of this saga is gripping.” —The Washington Post

“A gripping read: a balanced, detailed account that allows the reader to respond to the central question: did they or didn't they?...It’s  hard to imagine there will be a better book on the subject.” —The Observer (UK)
“A ‘must read.’ An excellent account of the tragedy and the very Italian drama that followed.” —The Sunday Times (UK) 
“One of the most gripping court cases of recent times…[Follain’s book] does a good job of reminding us that amid the reams of print and reel are human lives; some innocent and some guilty, but all irreparably disfigured by this horribly sad story.” —The Daily Telegraph (UK)
“I was very much in the grip of this book. For two days I didn't switch on the TV...Follain's account will trouble you for days.” —The Evening Standard (UK)
“A hot-off-the press account of the riveting murder trial.” —The Newcastle Herald (New South Wales)
“A careful, factual account of the case from the very beginning, complete with exhaustive interviews with key players, assiduous explanation of the complex details of the case, and a good understanding of the Italian judicial process.” —The Canberra Times (Australia)

From the Back Cover


Did she or didn’t she? That is the question that riveted the world during the sensational year-long trial of Amanda Knox, the American foreign-exchange student accused of killing her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy.


Shortly after 12.30 p.m. on November 2, 2007, Italian police were called to the Perugia home that Meredith shared with Amanda. They found Meredith’s lifeless body on the floor beneath a beige quilt. Her throat had been cut. Cash was missing. Was it a home invasion? Or something far more sinister? Amanda, along with her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, were both jailed. What role, if any, did they have in Meredith’s murder? What was their relationship to Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast drifter whose DNA was found at the scene of the crime? Author John Follain, who covered the case and trial for the London Sunday Times, conducted more than a hundred firsthand interviews with law enforcement officials and family and friends of both the victim and the accused to bring us the most balanced and exhaustively researched account of this controversial case.





* Includes 8 pages of dramatic photos *

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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I found the book to be quite good in telling the whole story of this case, and the terrible murder of young girl.
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Amazon.com: 62 reviews
42 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Excellent piece of inquisitorial propaganda Dec 2 2012
By Sienna L. Reid - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this book when it came out but am only now writing a review. First off, there are many details that Follain makes in the book that are interesting, not found in other books and help to understand the case. But I give the book only 2 stars for the many things that Follain leaves out, the insinuations he includes that are not based on fact, and because of the tiny trivial things he uses to insinuate guilt of Amanda and Raffaele, without factual support.

This account of the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito trial speaks only a little about the true murderer who was convicted on a fast track trial before Amanda and Raffaele were even allowed to go to court. This book ignores that fact that the only evidence in the room where Meredith was brutally murdered led straight to Rudy Guede. This book ignores the fact that the murderer Rudy Guede was known as a habitual liar, a thief, and drug addict who routinely broke into homes and offices in the same manner that he did the house of Meredith and Amanda. Follain lets us think that he had a clean record. This book ignores the absurdity of the fact that Guede was accused and convicted for murdering Meredith but not convicted of burglary or theft, even though the physical DNA evidence tied him to her purse. Somehow Follain tells certain things about Rudy but makes it out to still be Amanda who is guilty. The fact that Follain does this is truly criminal.

Now to what Follain does write about. Follain includes many details of the trial as well as relating the many absurdities of the trial. The problem is, he never analyzes them, or shows how they led to the wrongful conviction, even though it is obvious.

Follain does not reveal the worst of police behavior such as the destroying of the hard-drives of 3 out of 4 computers or the destruction of the cell phones. Follain does not tell us about Mignini being prosecuted for abuse of power or anything from the insanity of his role in the Monster of Florence investigations until page 371, at the end of the book, even though it is very important to understanding Mignini's character. Only seven scant paragraphs are devoted to this and they say nothing of the insanity that Mignini's actions reveal. Follain is actively protecting Mignini by revealing so little about him.

The illegal behavior of the police (i.e. they did not tell Amanda or Raffaele they were suspects, did not produce a video of the interrogations, they denied both Amanda and Raffaele lawyers), the illegal wire taps by police, the cost of Mignini's movie presented in court, and the absolutely unbelievable behavior by the Scientific Police in their collection of evidence which was well documented by their own videos and ultimately brought the whole case into a farcical light, the burning of the hard discs of the computers, not recording their interrogations, etc...).

The fact that Follain does not question the case as presented by the prosecution or refute their lies, means that he does not care about the truth .. i.e. "bare, bloody footprints" used as evidence actually tested negative for blood.

Follain's description given of the evidence presented by the prosecution is thorough while his representation of the case of the defense is scant and leaves out hours of testimony.

Follain does not question anything in the Massai/Christiani report which has to be one of the most ridiculous reconstructions of a crime scene ever, since the days of witch trials. There was no "evidence beyond a reasonable doubt" to back up anything in it, and nothing about Amanda and Raffaele's character supports it. The only supporting evidence was falsely reported by Stefanoni in all out lies about DNA, blood and footprint findings.

Follain ignores the entire character and evidence leading to the conviction of Rudy Guede. He does not criticize the police who declared that a known thief without a job (Rudy), who was a serial burglar who had threatened people before, and their declaration that Rudy would not have broken into the house and did not steal anything from Meredith or lie about anything. He does not state that Rudy who was the only person who left his DNA, footprints and fingerprints all over the crime scene.

Follain swoons about Mignini and uses much hyperbole to describe him. His description of Mignini shows his obvious admiration for him, yet though he tries to make him look good, just by describing Mignini's actions, he shows what an utterly dangerous and bizarre character the man is.

Follain, as Barbie Nadeau, has no sympathy for the accused and never tries through his "investigative journalism" to understand how the two could have been framed, manipulated and abused into the situation they were in. This is because he chose to believe in their guilt from the beginning. They are not innocent until proven guilty.

Both he and Nadeau use titles in their books to make them seem as if they have insider knowledge. They both back it up by saying they read all the documents and were present during most of the trial. Yet Follain ( and Nadeau) take all of Mignini's words as being gospel, no matter how absurd and rattled they are with pulp fiction-like absurdities.

Follain does not mention a word about Mignini's history as a truly dangerous man who invents diabolical, mysterious reasons for murder, ties them to mysterious cults with sex rituals, and is obsessed with unproven theories not backed by a shred of evidence. Nor does he mention the fact that Mignini has a history of shutting down journalists who don't swallow his bizarre lines of reasoning. I am sorry, but I thought journalism was about fact finding, not just swallowing the swill of the most powerful and leaving it at that.

The most interesting thing in this book is how Follain's close relationship to Mignini brings out the truth about his character, no matter how unwittingly. Mignini is shown to be a man obsessed by grand battles, thinks of himself as Sherlock Holmes and does anything he can to win. This is very telling when it comes to this trial. In fact that is what Mignini did. He lied, bent evidence, withheld evidence and records from the defense. Even more disgusting he made Amanda, a 20 year old girl who barely spoke Italian, a medieval style witch, someone who controlled men, was obsessed with sex and who was evil. I am sorry but all the words used to describe this girl were only used in order to mask the truth: that they had nothing tying her to the crime. No evidence. They used the medieval tactics of the inquisition to break her and Raffaele. Follain acknowledges part of this, but seems to believe that it is justified. I can only assume that he does not believe in the checks and balances that should protect the innocent, until proven guilty.

Follain describes the players on the prosecution side like superheroes, and shows his obvious admiration for them, while his description of the defense team is weak and even mean at times. Mignini is a strong character with intense interests and a super-hero pursuer of justice, moved by the naked body of Meredith, as are the police. The judge Massai is a paragon of perfection. The jury sounds very impressive too. His quote about the jury "Their verdict would be based exclusively on what they saw and heard in the courtroom...." ignores the fact that this jury was not sequestered and could read anything in the papers, watch any media they wanted and be influenced by anything. They were not even screened for bias before being chosen.

Follain's ridiculous judgements of Amanda and Raffaele are shown through his cherry picking of quotes and descriptions and continue throughout the book. He has no empathy for two young adults kept in solitary confinement (Raffaele over a year), refused legal council until it was too late, and serially abused. Amanda was denied a translator that would be outside of the influence of the police. ON and on goes the list of abuses towards them, which made them scared, fearful and unable to trust anyone. He documents some of these abuses but does not analyze how the treatment they received made them act strangely, and ultimately be tried and convicted. This is not a light thing. Their human rights were abused. This is very vital to the whole case.

He uses phrases that imply their guilt: i.e. re Amanda "As Guirga took her through the days leading up to the murder and her relations with Meredith, Amanda looked and sounded self-assured. Her tone was even chatty at times- jarring with her surroundings- as when she played down her clash with Meredith over cleanliness". What clash is Follain referring to? No "clash " was ever documented by anyone. The room-mates said there was not clash over cleaning, no arguments ever witnessed between Amanda and Meredith.

The press was particularly powerful in this case and used every tiny glance or expression caught on film (carefully chosen from thousands of photos taken) to characterize the accused to fit Mignini's description of them. Follain takes the British girlfriends of Meredith every word as gospel, even though they did not know Amanda or Raffaele, and emphasizes their vitriol and anger that came out of Meredith's murder as proof of their guilt. Of course the British girls had no contact with Rudy ever, so they would never be able to focus that anger on the person tied to the crime. The quotes that Follain includes from the British girls sound like those of the group of girls in the Salem witch trials. They are baseless, meaningless, and only lead to a peremptory idea of guilt based on fumes of hatred. Follain clearly shows how the police, in the few days following the murder have already decided Amanda and Raffaele's guilt, as well as told the British girls of this, so it is easy to understand why they followed this path. Follain's weight he gives to these girls words, the intense scrutiny of every move or motion that Amanda and Raffaele made during years of trials, as indications of guilt is just bizarre when he at the same time describes so many of the ridiculous vicissitudes of the trial.

Nor does Follain bother to point out the long list of evidence used in the trial and how it was full of lies, contradictions, and much of it later disproven. Follain says for instance when describing the film that Mignini and Comodi made to show how their version of the crime happened "She (Comodi) instructed the production company making the film to base it solely on the evidence, showing only what was in the case files" - he does not point out that there was nothing tying them to the crime scene, except for Rudy, so this would be impossible. The film is only a representation of the fanciful imagination of the prosecution. It does not rely on any facts. If it did, it would only show Rudy Guede.

Amanda and Raffaele are accused of dozens of things there is no evidence for but Follain never questions this: Amanda carrying a knife, the two faking a burglary, the two provoking a sexual attack, the two murdering, the two covering up a crime scene, the two stealing the money of Meredith (even though it was Rudy's DNA on the wallet).

Follain emphasizes how MIgnini felt- that he was so sad to ask for life sentences. Yet he is always waxing on about how sensitive Mignini is, while at the same time showing how he is a ruthless prosecutor who would stoop to anything to brand Amanda a sexual predatory rapist witch. Follain's use of these quotes is very strange. It is as if he admires Mignini for his ruthlessness, and has to also make him seem tender and compassionate at the same time.

Follain's descriptions of Amanda after the conviction are pathetic- p. 381. It is all orchestrated to make her look guilty. On page 387 he gives two whole paragraphs to an un-named investigator who says that Amanda has convinced herself she is not guilty- criticizes her for defending herself (as everyone does throughout the book, even attacking her family for their vigilant defense of Amanda) but never analyzes anything from the perspective that Amanda was NOT GUILTY. He attacks her for not apologizing to the Kerchers (this happens many times in the book) without acknowledging that she has no reason to apologize for a crime she has not committed.

On page 390 he makes it seem that Raffaele is an admirer of a murderer of children, with no evidence behind it and makes it sound like there is some sort of a connection between the two cases. Where is the evidence Follain?

Follian shows in his quotes how fearful the prosecution is that the forensics teams and DNA analysis will have a peer review. But Follain does not seem to question this or think that it is unreasonable.

Follain gives scant attention to the retrial, in line with his constant work throughout the book to emphasize the case by the prosecution, rather than that of the defense. On page 59 Follain's disdain of Amanda comes out as he describes her clothing. He mocks her "prisoners 'uniform' of jeans, sweatshirts and sneakers she had worn at the previous trial" trying to make it sound unusual. She was only wearing the clothes she had worn before being branded a murderer.

Follain never speaks about the fact that there was DNA of up to seven men on the bra clasp. On page 60 he does not mention why it took so long for the review of the DNA evidence by the defense: the fact that Stefanoni refused to hand it over for years, in spite of being ordered to do so by the judge. Follain uses the word "alleged" on page 405 when he says that "...Conti then listed more than fifty alleged failings..." referring to the DNA collection and examination by the prosecution team. Then he describes the failings in scant words, using the word "alleged" again to describe the detailed assault which was made on Stefanoni and the teams work.

Did Mignini, Comodi and the police and the entire prosecution team not "allege" everything they said about the entire crime? Why use this word now, unless you are trying to make it not seem important. Why on page 425 bring in Sophie's analysis? What did the British girls opinion have to do with anything? They were not witnesses, they did not know Amanda, they were only used by the police to plant their unsupportable theories. The coven of British girls had not attended the retrial. They had not witnessed the demolition of the "evidence" originally presented by the prosecution. They would always hold the image in their minds of Amanda and Raffaele being guilty.

Another thing that I think Follain misses out on is that the family of Meredith had in reality been tortured by the behavior of the prosecution for those four years (and still), as they had pursued the crime based on ridiculous and unfounded assumptions and mislead the family to believe that the crime was more complicated than it was. And of course that behavior had tortured Amanda and Raffaele and their families.

While reporting on the aquittal, Follain claims that outside the courtroom stood a "crowd some 4,000 strong", but it does not seem like there were more than a couple of hundred according to video footage. He does not mention that most people knew very little of the trial, and that there was an atmosphere more of vigilantes than people truly interested in the case.

Follain did not wait for the very thorough document released by Judge Hellmann which article by article refutes the prosecution's case. He also first thanks the prosecution. Those two things help to place Follain where he needs to be- although his work is interesting and full of a long account of the case, his work comes out slanted in the end, and not definitive. Because if it was definitive, it would have examined both sides with equal interest and asked and answered questions. The work does not do this, and this is why I fault it.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Interesting July 7 2012
By Rorijka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was interesting and informative although a bit slanted. It shows Amanda as a very naive girl who is coming of age but gives her no breaks because of her youth and actions.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Best of the books on the case to date Jan. 25 2014
By B. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Meresith Kercher murder case is probably one of the most closely followed cases since the prosecution of OJ Simpson. And like the Simpson case, you are required by many to pick a side. There is a fairly large contigent of people who believe the PR machine hired by the Knox Family (and they openly admit to hiring a PR firm just 3 days after her arrest), and I suspect that Amanda could admit to the murder at this point and the are so convinced of her innocence that they would refuse to believe her.

This book is not an attempt to take sides. It is an attempt to tell the story as clearly as possible. There continue to be unanswered questions (for example, why Amanda called Seattle at 4 in the morning Seattle time to just "chat" with her mother, an hour before the body of Meredith was discovered; or why Amanda took a shower in the cottage after noting both the fact that the door was wide open and that there was blood in the house), and this book doesn't answer them all--largely because we cannot know the truth. We have to rely on the accused for an explination, and her version of the truth has been known to change.

THe book does a fairly good job of establishing the timeline surrounding the crime, as well as the relationships between the four room mates before the murder.

Definately worth the read. I assume there will be an update, one way or the other, after the new trial concludes, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great balanced and professional reporting June 20 2014
By Jason P - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though I suspect I know the author's personal belief in regards to the perpetrators of the crime, he does an exceptional job of reporting in an objective and balanced way, leaving the reader to form an opinion of their own. Most impressive is the personal touch given to the facts of the crime and the trial, reminding you as you read that this crime was very real and not just media sensation. I only wish the author would do a second edition chronicling the latest event of the acquittal being overturned... Maybe he will do so after the final appeal? Great book and highly recommended for anyone interested in the facts of this case.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Investigative journalism May 5 2013
By La Hormiga - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having traveled back and forth to Europe during this time, I noticed media reports were much different there, than back in Seattle. This left me curious. Since it was widely reported the Knox family hired a PR firm, I looked around for a neutral report on this complex case and I found John Fallian's book. It's more or less just the facts. Read it and decide for yourself.

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