The People v O.J. Simpson [review]

The People VS OJ Simpson[Synopsis]

Called by The Wall Street Journal “the pick of the litter” among books on the O.J. Simpson criminal trial, this is the definitive commentary on the most famous trial of this century.

The People VS O.J. Simpson

[My Review]

Everyone – unless you never used to follow current affairs back in the 90’s or you’ve very young- remembers the trial in which O.J. Simpson was accused, tried and ultimately adquitted of murdering his ex girlfiend Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994. All the evidence pointed to Simpson’s guilt- in fact, ridiculously so- and so it was a shock to many when, in 1995, he was found not guilty. I had heard about the case and knew a fair amount about it…or so I thought.
Turns out, there was so much I didn’t know about! In The People VS. O.J. Simpson, author Jeffrey Toobin completely opened my eyes to just how much manipulation of the jury and the American legal system Simpson’s lawyers managed during this trial. It’s a real eye opener, and it’s packed full of facts and information about the whole rigmarole, starting from when the murders happened leading through to Simpson’s ultimate acquittal- and even afterwards, including the civil lawsuit the victim’s families filed against him afterwards (something I wasn’t really aware of)!
The level of detail in this book is astounding. At times I felt there was almost too much to take in; the book certainly could, in my opinion, have benefited by being cut down by about 50 pages or so. Despite usually being a really quick reader this took me ages to read- it’s a pretty long book and there’s a lot of detail to take in! However Toobin managed to include information about the jurors, the prosecutors, the defense team and Simpson himself, leaving the reader feeling like they’ve really learn a lot- the majority was hugely interesting stuff, too.
One of the key themes in this novel is, of course, race and racial relations between the Police and the black community in America at the time. Though Toobin is evidently completely convinced of Simpson’s guilt, he manages to convey a fairly even, balanced presentation of the murders and subsequent trial. He effectively shows how the Police’s past behaviour towards black residents in the area ultimately damaged what should have been an ‘open-and-shut’ case. He doesn’t seem to really blame the jurors for ruling against what the prosecution wanted, either, due to errors in the presentation of the case and the slick expertise of the defence team. All topped off, of course, by the celebrity effect- and how someone famous can change the way even the most level-headed people act.
I don’t tend to read a lot of non-fiction, but I really enjoyed this. Like many others I am planning on watching the incredibly popular TV show (I’m a bit behind the times, I know, but I missed it when it was initially on TV!) so really wanted to read this beforehand. I’m really interested to see how it translates onto the screen- it’ll be truly gripping, I’m sure, judging by how interesting this book was!
Definitely recommended, particularly for fans of true crime!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in return for an honest review.


  1. I watched the tv series, said after the first episode I couldn’t look at it again because of the acting but went back to it and was hooked! Obviously I saw the trial at the time, but like that, I didn’t realise so much was going on. Without spoiling anything it looks like the jurors had a tough time of it! Wish I’d read this before seeing the series. Great review:)

    • Ahh good! I am so excited to watch the tv programme! Missed the chance to record it when it was on TV so hoping I can watch it on catch up or something as everyone’s said its been really good. I love seeing books translated into film/ TV and judging whether it’s any good! ????

  2. I was planning on watching the TV series, but after reading your thoughts on the book, I think I should read it first. I love true crime stories. I am old enough to have heard about O.J Simpson and the case, (outch, I am old!) but I only recall the outline. Also, as a former Law student, I am sure I’ll enjoy reading this.. Anything coming close to a courtroom is made for me 🙂 Thanks for reminding me about this book

    • No problem- I think I managed to put the wrong book cover on this post originally but it’s changed now, in case you’re looking out for the wrong book! Hope you enjoy it anyway! 🙂

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