Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 30 or so years, you most likely know who O.J. Simpson is. Prior to his infamous acquittal for murdering (his ex-wife) Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in 1994, Orenthal James or “The Juice” was known for being a professional running back and actor, among other things.
Even if you don’t know who he is, you’ve probably heard the most infamous line from the trial “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” This witty phrase uttered by lead defense attorney Johnnie Cochran has stuck around for all these years.
I was only four years old when the murders happened, but looking back, I can pinpoint this case as my first exposure to true crime. I can even remember taking trips to the grocery store and seeing O.J.’s face plastered on the front pages of the tabloids. And, maybe, years later, this is what would lead me to ask everyone and their mother if they thought he did it.
Title: The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson
Author: Jeffrey Toobin
Rating: An Extremely Detailed Account
Genre: True Crime/Red-Collar Crime
Page Count: 496 (18 hours, 46 minutes via audiobook)
Although I am fascinated by this case, it took me a while to get started on the book – it’s a mammoth. At almost 500 pages, this narrative is intimidating, at best. Ultimately, I ended up downloading the audiobook and listening to it in the car and while doing housework. The book, written by lawyer and legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin is very objective as far as investigative accounts go. The only bias I found rested within the prologue, and even that could be disputed. Almost everything written about O.J. Simpson points to guilt, even though a jury of his peers found him not guilty.
Toobin’s account is the most thorough I’ve ever heard and I mean that in the absolute sense of the word. Not only does he describe O.J., Nicole, and the entire investigation and trial in detail, but he also takes time to discuss the secondary players like Faye Resnick and Kato Kaelin, who both became reality TV stars in later years. We also learn more than we probably ever wanted to know about the main lawyers – Robert Shapiro, Johhnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, Marcia Clark, and Christopher Darden, among others. In fact, the story probably could have been cut in half just by removing this information. But, it’s all relevant when you connect behaviors to background info, so that could be appreciated.
There were, however, a few times I felt disinterested. That wasn’t the fault of the author, but rather of the mundane trial proceedings. Did I really need to know that one of the questions on the juror questionnaire was – Did you ever have and amniocentesis? No, I don’t think I did. Sometimes less is more.
If you want ALL the details, you’ve picked up the right book, because Toobin spares absolutely none. I’ve listened to podcasts, documentaries, and other sources, and none have been so thorough and complete. This was like a college course taught by an engaging lecturer.
If you’re looking for more books by the author, Jeffrey Toobin has also famously penned titles such as The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court and True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump.
Need to know more?
Download/Listen: Crime Junkie Podcast Episode from 1/2/19 where you’ll hear all about the murder case and also a conspiracy theory from one of the hosts
Watch: The Docuseries: O.J. Made in America (in 5 parts) AND The Dramatization: The People v. O.J. Simpson
Read: If I did It: Confessions of the Killer. Most of the proceeds for that book go to Ron Goldman’s family to satisfy the $33.5 million awarded in a wrongful death civil suit against Simpson
Dear Reader: I agonized over this post, rewriting it a handful of times. Each time I read through it, I found something to add or tweak, but alas, I’d never post a word if I kept that cycle going.
There’s not much more to be said about the case, but the thing that strikes me about O.J. is that he’s very charismatic – always smiling with a jovial nature. (Yes, still – he’s in his 70s and can be found making jokes and videos on Twitter.) The same, however, could be said about Ted Bundy, and we know he committed “extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile” crimes. There’s just something that draws you to him, and I have to stop and wonder if it was this, in part, that lead to his acquittal.
Of course, so many things about this investigation and trial were botched. From the handling of evidence to the blunders of the prosecution. Back in 1994, DNA technology wasn’t nearly what it is today. And so, you have to wonder, if the murders had happened in 2021, would O.J. still have been acquitted?
So, what do you think? Did he do it?