This past weekend I had the opportunity to sit in on Jeffrey Toobin's presentation of his new book, American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst. He was appearing on the closing weekend of the Atlanta MJCCA Book Festival of which I have been blogging about this month.
For whatever reason, I have been interested in Patty Hearst since I was a little kid. I don't know why. Maybe it is the iconic picture above that captured my imagination. It could be the exotic nature of a billionaire heiress turning revolutionary and all that entails. I can remember people talking about her case and seeing her picture plastered on the news. As Toobin pointed out, Hearst remains the only political kidnapping in American history.
Toobin didn't disappoint. He told the Hearst story with zeal and revealed facts that astonished the audience. For instance, he described in detail a shootout with the SLA that involved over 8,000 rounds of ammo being fired from both sides.
I was able to ask a question about whether this was the first case in which Stockholm Syndrome was introduced as a defense and if it influenced Hearst's behavior. Toobin welcomed the question and readily explained that both Stockholm Syndrome and brainwashing are journalistic terms. He went on to explain that some people do experience Stockholm Syndrome but others don't and that in his opinion, Hearst had a pattern throughout the saga of adapting to her circumstances. If she was with revolutionaries then she was a revolutionary. If she was sitting in a prison cell, then she was a heiress. She stayed in survival mode.
I am really looking forward to reading this book. Apparently the team that made the acclaimed series 'The People Vs. O.J. Simpson', based on Toobin's earlier book, The Run Of His Life, are turning this one into a movie as well. I want to read it before they do. Needless to say, I will be reviewing it on here.