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Book Review of The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival

The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival
reviewed on + 44 more book reviews

I had first seen the story of Stanley Alpert on an episode of 48 Hours Mystery awhile back. I was quite intrigued by the story of a federal prosecutor kidnapped on the streets of New York City. When the show hinted that some did not believe the story, I was hooked and had to read the story for myself first hand, so at the end when 48 Hours showed the title of the book he wrote, I put it on my to read list.

The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival is the autobiographical account of the kidnapping of Stanley Alpert, a US Assistant District Attorney in New York. After spending the evening with a new female acquaintance, grabbing some cookies and a novel from a local store, walking the lady home, and then sauntering his way home himself, Mr. Alpert was kidnapped at gunpoint by 3 assailants. The idea was that he would be held for a short time while the suspects withdrew money using his ATM card. When the suspects found out how much money he had in his savings account, plans changed. Ironically, the day after the abduction was the victims birthday, which led to no one seriously questioning his absence until almost 24 hours after the abduction. The book discusses the events prior to the kidnapping, the bizarre details of being held captive, and the prosecution of the abductors after the events.

The book did offer a surprisingly descriptive account of what occurred throughout the ordeal and afterward. I was captivated and did not want to put the book down once the action started. However, I found that the book trailed off dramatically once the victim was released. The post kidnapping was a few pages shy of half the book and while I found the behind the scenes view of the criminal investigation and prosecution interesting, the second half of the book was really a let down after an incredibly interesting first half. I am not faulting the author, it is just that sometimes portions of a non-fiction story are not that interesting.

I found the book to be an uneven combination of riveting action and lackluster details of the prosecution. The writing is basic, but descriptive. I thought the very end when the author discusses his current outlook on life to be very touching and did make me look at myself and ask what was really important. I think the book did offer some significant insight on how to conduct yourself when faced with a kidnapping/hostage situation. I am not saying that the book is a must read for this reason, but a thing or two could be learned from the authors experiences.

Overall, I though this was a solid book that I did enjoy reading. If you are a true crime fan, I think this book is definitely worth the read. The events that unfolded throughout the ordeal really does make for a bizarre story and I could see why some might have questioned if the events really did occur.

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