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Monday, March 20, 2000
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Volume 65, Issue 114


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New book tells story of Lennon's murderer

By Rattaya Nimibutr
Daily Cougar Staff

Back in the late 1970s, when Mark David Chapman bought a copy of Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger for his wife, he told her to read it for a better understanding of his mental stability, or lack thereof.

He also told her how much of a "phony" John Lennon had become. It was an opinion he said he'd formed from reading the book John Lennon: One Day at a Time

But even with all the strangeness of Chapman's behavior, no one would have thought that the narcissistic ex-Beatle fanatic would shoot his one-time hero Nov. 8, 1980.

In the book Let Me Take You Down by Jack Jones, best known for his interviews with David Berkowitz, a.k.a. the Son of Sam, one finds a brilliant and compelling account of Chapman's chaotic mentality, leading up to that unforgettable day in New York City.

Since 1986, Jones has visited and interviewed Chapman inside the Attica prison about the emotions, intentions and events surrounding the shooting. His compilation is more than just the biography of a madman; Jones has dug deeper into the complexity of a man that caused a stir across the nation.

To read this book is to give Chapman a chance to explain himself. As you read about his struggle to find an identity by paralleling his life with Salinger's hero Holden Caulfield, there are times in which you sympathize with him. His silent cry for help is an obvious yearning to be famous.

Jones structures the book extremely well, switching between Chapman's both insensitive and sensitive monologues and comments of friends and families who watched him struggle for inner peace. He gathers the events into a compelling chronology. 

Starting off the book with the exact events on the day of the murder, Jones then moves backward to the beginning, where Chapman believes his identity became transparent.

The book offers many views you can take of Chapman, from his analysis of Catcher in the Rye to his ruthless obsession of Lennon. It contains the entire thought process that drove Chapman to the murder, and Jones allows you to make your own conclusions.

There are many ironic events told in this intense and excellent book. For example, Chapman happened to purchase his .38 Smith & Wesson from a gentleman named Mr. Ono. 

Let Me Take You Down may disgust some people, but this book is a manual of self-destruction. The quest for identity by Chapman is oddly interesting and Jones has done an extremely good job in answering many questions that remained after the tragic murder of Lennon. 
 

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