The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle (Paperback)
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On Our Shelves Now
A based-on source for the Warner Bros. film Richard Jewell, starring Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, Olivia Wilde, and Paul Walter Hauser
Find out more about the story at the heart of Manhunt: Deadly Games
The masterful true-crime account of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing that captured the world's attention, and the heroic security guard-turned-suspect at the heart of it all
On July 27, 1996, a hapless former cop turned hypervigilant security guard named Richard Jewell spotted a suspicious bag in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, the town square of the 1996 Summer Games. Inside was a bomb, the largest of its kind in FBI and ATF history. Minutes later, the bomb detonated amid a crowd of fifty thousand people. But thanks to Jewell, it only wounded 111 and killed two, not the untold scores who would have otherwise died. With the eyes of the world on Atlanta, the Games continued. But the pressure to find the bomber was intense. Within seventy-two hours, Jewell went from the hero to the FBI’s main suspect. The news leaked and the intense focus on the guard forever changed his life. The worst part: It let the true bomber--Eric Rudolph--roam free to strike again.
What really happened that evening during the Olympic Games? The attack left a mark on American history, but most of what we remember is wrong. In a triumph of reporting and access in the tradition of the best investigative journalism, former U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander and former Wall Street Journal reporter Kevin Salwen reconstruct all the events leading up to, during, and after the Olympic bombing from mountains of law enforcement evidence and the extensive personal records of key players, including Richard himself.
The Suspect, the culmination of more than five years of reporting, is a gripping story of the rise of domestic terrorism in America, the advent of the 24/7 news cycle, and an innocent man’s fight to clear his name.
About the Author
Kent Alexander was the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia at the time of the 1996 Olympics. He spent hundreds of hours in meetings with the FBI about the bombing, and ultimately, he wrote and hand-delivered Jewell’s clearance letter.
Journalist Kevin Salwen is a former Wall Street Journal columnist and an editor who ran southeastern coverage for the paper during the Olympic Games.
“The Suspect is a fascinating reconstruction of the Neo-Gothic tale of Richard Jewell, the security guard who was memorably and unjustly implicated in the 1996 bombing at the Atlanta Olympic games. Meticulously reported, bracingly written, full of memorable and bizarre characters, the book casts a wary eye on the worlds of law enforcement and journalism, and their multiple failures in this tale. It’s a story with no winners – except for readers of this terrific book.”
— Jeffrey Toobin
“Intensively reported and fluidly written, 'The Suspect' details the years-long search for the real killer...It is a cautionary tale about the fallibility of the storied feds, the role of luck in breaking big cases, and the conflicted choices faced by the media even at the dawn of the digital age.”
— The Wall Street Journal
"From questionable FBI tactics to the role of the press, The Suspect lays bare how Jewell became their unwitting victim in the rush to solve the biggest and most public crime of the era. It is a cautionary tale that reminds us that criminal investigations are often lengthy and painstaking, ill-suited for today’s media frenzy. The Suspect is an important, highly relevant book."
— Janet Napolitano
“Domestic terror, white nationalism, FBI profilers, a trial by punchline in the infancy of twenty-four-hour news cycle—what happened in Atlanta’s Centennial Park during the ?96 Olympics still echoes like a bomb blast today in this engrossing and meticulously researched ticktock about the railroading of Richard Jewell and the killer who almost got away.”
— Charles Graeber