Picks and Pans Review: The Run of His Life
This latest offering from the O.J. Simpson literary pipeline (which has, alas, no Off valve) is distinguished by access to spare without axes to grind—an author tapped into the workings of the Simpson case who, refreshingly, takes a dispassionate approach to dissecting what happened.
Toobin, an ex-assistant U.S. attorney who followed the case for The New Yorker, was the reporter who broke the news that Simpson's lawyers would make race an issue in the case by suggesting that rogue LAPD officer Mark Fuhrman framed Simpson. (Dream Teamer Robert Shapiro, who served up the Fuhrman bombshell in 1994, is one known source for The New Yorker story.) Here Toobin argues that the Dream Team invented "an alternative reality for the events of June 12, 1994," and bolsters his claim with a blitz of fresh, engrossing revelations, the result of well-placed sources who secured for Toobin internal legal memos, secret grand-jury testimony and even depositions from the pending civil case against Simpson. Toobin reports, for instance, that prior to being retained as counsel, Johnnie Cochran admitted to friends that he thought Simpson was guilty. "O.J. is in massive denial," he quotes Cochran as saying. "He obviously did it."
The Run of His Life offers other striking details, such as Marcia Clark ignoring focus groups that suggested black female jurors would be sympathetic to Simpson, and a prison guard telling O.J. he'd been found not guilty the night before he feigned surprise on worldwide TV Toobin's insight into the motives and mind-set of key players sets this Simpson book apart from the pack. (Random House, $25)