On August 1, 1966, Charles Joseph Whitman ascended the University of Texas Tower and committed what was then the largest simultaneous mass murder in American history. He gunned down forty-five people inside and around the Tower before he was killed by two Austin police officers. During the previous evening he had killed his wife and mother, bringing the total to sixteen people dead and at least thirty-one wounded. The murders spawned debates over issues which still plague America today: domestic violence, child abuse, drug abuse, military indoctrination, the insanity defense, and the delicate balance between civil liberties and public safety.
"Whitman pioneered this country's experience with the one-man public massacre . . . He 'climbed his tower' to die and take with him as many as he could, for reasons both too logical and implausible to fit the usual notions of insanity . . . Only the passage of time and America's experience with other mass murders has allowed Gary Lavergne to look back on the Texas Tower sniper with a clearer sense of what Whitman was about, and as an unusually gifted author he does so with a cool, balanced, and yet vivid recounting of the gory mayhem that occurred."—William J. Helmer, Former Contributing Editor, Playboy
" . . . an outstanding job of chronicling one of the most significant cases in the annals of American crime . . . Lavergne skillfully researched, documented, and analyzed a case that in many ways defined the concept of 'mass murder' . . . will likely become a classic in anyone's library of true crime editions."—James Alan Fox, Dean of Criminal Justice, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an authority on mass murder
"Now . . . we have the first scholarly research . . . on this horrific American tragedy. Lavergne's investigative expertise, his objectivity, and his scientific eye for evidence forms a truly revealing picture of Charles Whitman, until now a fathomless madman."—Neal Spelce, newsman who won national awards for his coverage of the event, is anchor of the evening news for Austin's CBS affiliate