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Murder, Corruption, Coverups: the Strange Dark History of Stanford University

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Richard White's new book is “Who Killed Jane Stanford?: A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits, and the Birth of a University.” (Photo of Richard White by Jesse White. Cover photo courtesy of W.W. Norton.)

Jane Stanford and her robber baron husband Leland founded what would become Stanford University in 1885. 20 years later Jane Stanford was murdered, poisoned by strychnine. Historian Richard White dives into the corruption and coverups shrouding the unsolved murder in his new book, “Who Killed Jane Stanford?” His book is both a true crime mystery and a history of the corruption, inequality, yellow journalism, pseudo-science and racism of California’s Gilded Age. Forum talks with White about reviving a cold case more than a century old and the present day resonance of examining “the rich people who created monuments to themselves, and whose lives are reminders that the problem with philanthropy is very often philanthropists.”


Richard White, professor emeritus of American History, Stanford University; author, “Who Killed Jane Stanford?: A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits, and the Birth of a University.” He is two time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history, most recently for "Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America."<br />


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