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  • Published: 1 December 2020
  • ISBN: 9781785151996
  • Imprint: William Heinemann
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 512
  • RRP: $40.00

We Keep the Dead Close

A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence




For readers gripped by In Cold Blood and I'll Be Gone in the Dark, We Keep the Dead Close is both a haunting true crime narrative of an unsolved 1969 murder at a prestigious institution and a lyrical memoir of obsession and love for a girl who dreamt of rising among men.

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 CRIME WRITERS' ASSOCIATION ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION

'I'm obsessed!' REESE WITHERSPOON
'Exhilarating ... Becky Cooper masterfully uncovers the story of Harvard undergrad Jane Britton.' VOGUE
________________________
You have to remember, he reminded me, that Harvard is older than the U.S. government. You have to remember because Harvard doesn't let you forget.

1969: the height of counterculture and the year universities would seek to curb the unruly spectacle of student protest; the winter that Harvard University would begin the tumultuous process of merging with Radcliffe, its all-female sister school; and the year that Jane Britton, an ambitious 23-year-old graduate student in Harvard's Anthropology Department and daughter of Radcliffe Vice President J. Boyd Britton, would be found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment.

Forty years later, Becky Cooper, a curious undergrad, will hear the first whispers of the story. In the first telling the body was nameless. The story was this: a Harvard student had had an affair with her professor, and the professor had murdered her in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology because she'd threatened to talk about the affair. Though the rumour proves false, the story that unfolds, one that Cooper will follow for ten years, is even more complex: a tale of gender inequality in academia, a 'cowboy culture' among empowered male elites, the silencing effect of institutions, and our compulsion to rewrite the stories of female victims.

WE KEEP THE DEAD CLOSE is a memoir of mirrors, misogyny and murder. It is at once a rumination on the violence and oppression that rules our revered institutions, a ghost story reflecting one young woman's past onto another's present, and a love story for a girl who was lost to history.
________________________
'A brilliant and extraordinary book.' PHILIPPE SANDS

'Top drawer investigative reporting. Riveting. A refreshing reason to sacrifice sleep' SARAH JESSICA PARKER

'"You have to remember, he reminded me, that Harvard is older than the U.S. government. You have to remember because Harvard doesn't let you forget." If that sentence, paired with the title, doesn't get your spidey senses tingling, I don't know what will' REFINERY29

  • Published: 1 December 2020
  • ISBN: 9781785151996
  • Imprint: William Heinemann
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 512
  • RRP: $40.00

About the author

Becky Cooper

Becky Cooper is a former New Yorker writer, assistant to David Remnick, Adam Gopnik and D.T. Max, producer for the New Yorker Radio Hour. Currently, she is artist-in-residence at Harvard University, as well as Senior Fellow at Brandeis’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Reporting. Her undergraduate thesis, a literary biography of David Foster Wallace, won Harvard’s Hoopes Prize, the highest undergraduate award for research and writing. In 2013, she published Mapping Manhattan: A Love and Sometimes Hate Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers (Abrams), which is currently in its fifth printing.

Praise for We Keep the Dead Close

Exhilarating and seductive ... Haunting, fascinating, and surprising. Cooper will keep you riveted.

Ariel Levy, author of The Rules Do Not Apply

Searching, atmospheric and ultimately entrancing ... A vivid account of a notorious murder at Harvard, and a meditation on the stories that we tell ourselves about violence ... With a deft touch, she interrogates not just the evidence, witnesses and suspects, but her own biases and assumptions, as well.

Patrick Radden Keefe, author of SAY NOTHING

Stunning ... This vivid, graceful story is as much about obsession and a search for belonging as it is about the romance of exploration, the unglamorous logistics of scientific fieldwork, the secretiveness of clans, the cruelty of chance, and the doggedness inherent to the best narrative journalism.

Paige Williams, author of THE DINOSAUR ARTIST

Exhilarating ... Becky Cooper masterfully uncovers the story of Harvard undergrad Jane Britton

Vogue

Top drawer investigative reporting. Riveting. A refreshing reason to sacrifice sleep.

Sarah Jessica Parker

A brilliant and extraordinary book.

Philippe Sands

An extraordinary piece of crime writing that's so much more than a whodunnit.

Mail on Sunday

A beautifully composed elegy ... A brilliantly idiosyncratic variant of generic true crime.

Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books

An impressively granular investigation of this shocking and perplexing case...Cooper should be lauded for her investigative abilities - there is no question that she has earned her spot among the ranks of detectives and reporters who have spent decades obsessed with the Britton case ... It's in discussing the misogyny of academia and the politics of Harvard that Cooper shines the brightest ... [We Keep the Dead Close is] a meditation on academia, womanhood and the power of storytelling.

Washington Post

Meticulously reported and sensitively written, We Keep the Dead Close is top-of-the-line true crime, fortified with shrewd intellectual rigor and acute moral clarity. This case became Becky Cooper's obsession, and before long, you'll be obsessed, too.

Robert Kolker, author of HIDDEN VALLEY ROAD

I defy any reader to resist the hypnotic power of this Harvard whodunit. In a tour de force of investigative reporting, Becky Cooper guides us through a maze of academic politics and personal intrigue, her sleuthing laced with uncommon sensitivity and insight. Even as it engages us emotionally, this stirring narrative, with its heart-stopping finale, forces us to ponder the very nature of historical truth. A stunning achievement.

Ron Chernow

This is an astonishing book: circuitous yet taut with suspense, layered yet gripping. Cooper is one hell of a detective, chasing a long-buried murder mystery not only to the victim and her killer, but to the very core of how we understand one another. Most remarkable is how contemporary and vital every bit of questioning Cooper does here feels. Jane Britton died decades ago, but in Cooper's hands, Britton's tragic murder teaches us about ourselves and the dangers of the institutions we uphold.

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of THE FACT OF A BODY

Ambitious ... A highly sophisticated investigation of a cold case mixed with elements of memoir and trendy cultural criticism.

Spectator

Meticulous investigation ... sparkling prose ... As with all good stories, We Keep the Dead Close's particularities seep from its pages to encompass us all. Flipping between past, present and a cast of brilliant-difficult characters ... Compelling.

iNews

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