Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial

Iphigenia in Forest Hills Anatomy of a Murder Trial Astringent and absorbing Iphigenia in Forest Hills casts from its first pages a genuine spell the kind of spell to which Ms Malcolm s admirers and I am one have become addicted Dwight Garner New Yo

  • Title: Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial
  • Author: Janet Malcolm
  • ISBN: 9780300167467
  • Page: 209
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial

    Astringent and absorbing Iphigenia in Forest Hills casts, from its first pages, a genuine spell the kind of spell to which Ms Malcolm s admirers and I am one have become addicted Dwight Garner, New York Times She couldn t have done it and she must have done it This is the enigma at the heart of Janet Malcolm s riveting new book about a murder trial in the Astringent and absorbing Iphigenia in Forest Hills casts, from its first pages, a genuine spell the kind of spell to which Ms Malcolm s admirers and I am one have become addicted Dwight Garner, New York Times She couldn t have done it and she must have done it This is the enigma at the heart of Janet Malcolm s riveting new book about a murder trial in the insular Bukharan Jewish community of Forest Hills, Queens, that captured national attention The defendant, Mazoltuv Borukhova, a beautiful young physician, is accused of hiring an assassin to kill her estranged husband, Daniel Malakov, a respected orthodontist, in the presence of their four year old child The prosecutor calls it an act of vengeance just weeks before Malakov was killed in cold blood, he was given custody of Michelle for inexplicable reasons It is the Dickensian ordeal of Borukhova s innocent child that drives Malcolm s inquiry.With the intellectual and emotional precision for which she is known, Malcolm looks at the trial a contest between competing narratives from every conceivable angle It is the chasm between our ideals of justice and the human factors that influence every trial from divergent lawyering abilities to the nature of jury selection, the malleability of evidence, and the disposition of the judge that is perhaps most striking.Surely one of the most keenly observed trial books ever written, Iphigenia in Forest Hills is ultimately about character and reasonable doubt As Jeffrey Rosen writes, it is as suspenseful and exciting as a detective story, with all the moral and intellectual interest of a great novel Iphigenia in Forest Hills is another dazzling triumph from Janet Malcolm Here, as always, Malcolm s work inspires the best kind of disquiet in a reader the obligation to think Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Nine Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court A remarkable achievement that ranks with Malcolm s greatest books Her scrupulous reporting and interviews with protagonists on both sides of the trial make her own narrative as suspenseful and exciting as a detective story, with all the moral and intellectual interest of a great novel Jeffrey Rosen, author of The Supreme Court The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America

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      209 Janet Malcolm
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    One thought on “Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial

    1. Betsy

      An engrossing blow-by-blow account of a very strange crime and trial involving very strange people by a writer known for her piercing critiques of journalists. This time Janet Malcolm takes on the court system (although her critique extends to reporters covering the trials) - and family law, including the courts overseeing ex-spouses warring over child custody. In this particular case, there is one clear-cut loser - the child, who witnesses her dad's death at age 4. (And the dad who was murdered [...]

    2. Beth

      Agamemnon had angered the goddess, Artemis, by bragging that he was a better hunter. To punish him, she becalmed his fleet as he attempted to reach Troy and defeat that city in battle. Desperate for victory Agamemnon promised he would do what ever Artemis desired if his fleet could move on to Troy. Artemis agreed to send the wind to fill the sails of his fleet if Agamemnon killed his daughter, Iphigenia. Agamemnon sent a message to Clytemnestra, telling her to bring Iphigenia to him so that she [...]

    3. Jillwilson

      I love this writer's work although this is not her best book. Like Helen Garner, she often writes about interesting real-life events. This is a book about a real-life American woman accused of murdering her husband because of a custody dispute. The title comes from Greek mythology - Iphigenia was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra who was ordered by the goddess Artemis to be sacrificed. What doesn't work about the story is the fact that it's hard to get a sense of the central character. [...]

    4. Maha Abed

      Despite my engagement with this book, and completing it, I found Malcolm's crime reporting to be disjointed. Not as enthralling as other reviewers have made it out to be.

    5. Stephanie

      In this spare volume, Malcolm recaps the trial of a young internist, Mazoltuv Borukhova, a member of the insular Bukharan-Jewish community of Forest Hills, Queens, who stands accused of hiring an assassin to murder her husband, Daniel Malakov, an orthodontist. Malcolm attacks the criminal justice system and the "hollowness of the presumption of innocence." The evidence against Dr. Borukhova was thin (e.g 91 cell phone calls between Dr. Borukhova and the alleged hitman preceding the murder), but [...]

    6. Martin Cerjan

      Quick, good read; very well written in a conversational style a la the New Yorker. This book was of particular interest to me since the murder in question happened about a block from my apartment. The author does a good job of criticizing the jury trial system--and many other aspects of the bureaucratic state--without going overboard. She manages to maintain the air of mystery throughout the book. The Bukharian Jewish community in Queens makes for interesting reading and I wish the author had sp [...]

    7. Libby

      Noted journalist Janet Malcolm writes about the trial of Dr. Mazoltov Borukhova, accused of using a hitman, Mikhail Malleyev, to kill her ex-husband, orthodontist Daniel Malakov, who had been awarded custody of their young daughter Michelle by a judge. She exposes a lot of the problems with the legal system that convicted both Borukhova and Malleyev (both serving life sentences without parole) as well as opening a curtain on the insular Bukharan-Jewish community of Forest Hills. It's a fascinati [...]

    8. Christina

      I found this book kind of flat. It reads like someone's notes from the courtroom gallery, but doesn't seem to really formulate a story with an end.In being nonpartisan, Janet Malcolm more or less offloads the facts she's gathered and ends the book without making any of the players involved sympathetic (with the exception of the little girl, Michelle).

    9. Alix

      It's possible mystery/detective fiction has ruined me, but I found this a bit flat compared with fictional courtroom drama.

    10. MercuryPitchforks

      On the surface, Iphigenia in Forest Hills is about the trial and conviction of Mazoltuv Borukhova for the murder of her ex-husband. But you may finish the book unsatisfied if it is that story that you are particularly invested in, as Malcolm’s real subject here is the system of overlapping and interlocking agencies that Borukhova and her family came into contact with as they entered as their marriage began to break down. The social services and child advocacy services and legal services and ev [...]

    11. Peter Landau

      Janet Malcolm knows how to tell a story, and she knows that story is always fiction, even when it’s a true story. IPHIGENIA IN FOREST HILLS: ANATOMY OF A MURDER TRIAL is the best book on the mechanics of justice in America I’ve ever read, though honestly it may be one of the only ones I’ve ever read on the subject. Still, most of the “action” takes place in the Queens Supreme Courthouse and it’s riveting without being melodramatic like the courtroom scenes I’m used to from watching [...]

    12. Ruth

      I can't decide how I feel about this book. It was very easy to read, rich in description and detail, yet I don't know whether I trust Janet Malcolm's impressions. She persuaded me that Mazoltuv Borukhova was convicted unjustly, because she planted a seed of doubt in my mind that she did the crime of which she was convicted. She argued this so strongly that I couldn't figure out how anyone would have convicted her, honestly. It felt like a novel by an unreliable narrator, only it was a non-fictio [...]

    13. Blue Cypress Books

      I rarely read true-crime/criminal procedure books but was intrigued by this Janet Malcolm work primarily based on the recently proliferation of true crime shows and podcasts like Serial. It took a moment to catch the story threads as Malcolm doesn't write in a typical beginning-middle-end style. Like most real-life stories, there is no neat or clean ending and that was frustrating but felt authentic.

    14. Cristiano Carneiro

      Desafio Lendo Mais Mulheres 2017: jornalismo literário.Janet Malcolm é incrivelmente hábil em descrever todo o ambiente que cerca um julgamento. A visão da autora do julgamento como um confronto de narrativas, bem como o retrato da incapacidade dos operadores do direito de perceberem as nuances humanas das pessoas com que lidam é fascinante.Desafio Lendo Mais Mulheres: 4/12

    15. Melissa

      I don't know what this book was supposed to be about. It details a murder trial that seems pretty clear but never really comes to a conclusion or even an end. It literally just stops in the middle of s scene. Very odd.

    16. Alex

      Detailed account of Borukhova's trial and some of it's aftermath. I really liked Malcolm's writing style. It is super intelligent and factual, but she also inserts herself just enough to add touches of humor and a very human element. Read this if you're interested in the law, legal procedures and how lawyers/judges operate in the courtroom.

    17. Robert

      A very good reporter's excellent take on the American criminal justice system via the story of a trial of two defendants in a rather high profile (at the time) murder case from Forest Hills, Queens. On trial are a well -respected woman doctor, a member of a small sect of Orthodox Jews and her alleged hit man, accused of killing the doctor's husband, a member of the same sect. Ms Malcolm explores all the many influences, unfortunately not limited to the quality of the "facts" adduced at trial, th [...]

    18. Ed

      Janet Malcolm takes the title from “Iphigenia at Aulis” by Euripides in which King Agamemnon, leading the Greek army against Troy has been thwarted by the winds that refuse to blow, his men cooped up in ships that can’t leave the harbor. Agamemnon has been convinced that the only way that the wind will rise allowing his troopships to sail to Troy is to sacrifice is daughter, Iphigenia”. Iphigenia here is Michelle, the four-year old daughter of Daniel Malakov and Marina Borukhova who are [...]

    19. Maryann MJS1228

      This is not a true crime book and Janet Malcolm is not an author who seeks to entertain. Nor is she the sort of author who fades into the background of her writing. More often than not, a critique of any of her books becomes a critique of her. Fortunately Malcolm is as ready to rumble as any star of the WWE. To read any of Malcolm's work for a dispassionate recitation of events is to be disappointed and to, well, miss the point. She seeks to understand what the events reveal about us. She does n [...]

    20. Marisa

      I won this through First Reads. One question that came up for me while reading Iphigenia in Forest Hills is to what extent culture is considered in the courtroom. Are juries informed about certain traditions, rites, etc. that may come up in the course of a trial or would such information be deemed as leading information? Upon completion of my reading, I felt that any such information would most likely be used to whatever advantage each side could see to gain from it.One thing Malcolm's book does [...]

    21. Crazy_smiler

      If I could rate this book less than one star I would. It was SOOOOO boring. I hate to not finish things so I read it all. SPOILERS!!!!! It's about a woman who hires a hitman who shoots her husband with a silencer at a park. The book is mostly about the court and domestic arguing between both sides of the family. There's claims the husband molested their little girl but appears to be malicious lies. The husband ended up having custody of the girl and really the mom was pissed and wanted her back [...]

    22. Alison Hardtmann

      e couldn't have done it and she must have done it.Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial tells the story of the trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova for the murder of her ex-husband Daniel Malakov, a trial that hit the newspapers because the couple were part of a small community of Bukharan Jews. Borukhova and Malakov had an acrimonious divorce, in which the point of contention was custody of their daughter. While Malakov was fine with Borukhova keeping primary custody, the law guardian hir [...]

    23. Caleb

      Malcolm is a true crime writer for the New Yorker. I had to read another one of her books (The Crimes of Sheila McGough) during law school and found it interesting. Here, she takes on an apparently famous murder trial in New York City within a small sect of Central Asian Jews by a wife against her estranged husband. Malcolm details the trial and talks with the parties afterward. She knows enough about trial lawyers to have interesting insights on the trial and the battle for narratives, all of w [...]

    24. Mythili

      Do I get extra points for finishing this book while on a train headed towards Forest Hills? No? Oh well.I'd been meaning to read this for a long time and after it showed up on a list of things one might use for a quick true crime fix post-Serial I requested it from the library. It got bonus points for being set in Queens.Janet Malcolm writes incisively and deliciously but I expected more out of this little book than it delivered. I remembered the meatiest parts from The New Yorker essay about th [...]

    25. David

      kind of an odd book. I think I might read it again in 10 years and feel differently [better] about it. Not the usual true crime story in that she didn't apparently get to know any of the principals well and doesn't have anything novel to report about whether the conviction was warranted vs. miscarriage of justice. Underlying allegation is sensational -- a woman physician hires a hit man to kill her physician husband in retaliation for his winning a custody dispute over their 4-yo daughter. Autho [...]

    26. Susan

      Janet Malcolm is hardly an objective reporter on the lurid murder trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova, a young Bukharan orthodox Jewish doctor from Uzbekistan who was found guilty of arranging the murder of her orthodontist husband. Borukhova got nowhere with the claim that her husband had beaten her and also sexually abused their infant daughter Michelle. Perhaps it was her personality that made everyone she encountered in the child services and judicial systems hate Borukhova. Malcolm's larger purpose [...]

    27. Michael

      Janet Malcolm's account of the murder trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova relies too much on an elementary explanation of the basic mechanics of a criminal court and is rather scant on the human drama surrounding the case. However, when Malcolm visits the victim's family, the characters suddenly come to life and show the true, unfulfilled potential of this story.Notes:Malcolm's story is riveting, but for such a brief book, she spends too much time on the general mechanics of the courtroom. Borukhova str [...]

    28. Keith

      Iphigenia has all of the raw material of a classic courtroom drama: a grisly crime, eloquent attorneys, a bombastic judge, and an attractive, enigmatic defendant who seems both guilty and innocent. Mazoltuv Borukhova is a young doctor accused of paying a hit man $20,000 to kill her orthodontist husband after a judge gave him custody of their daughter. Perversely, the fatal shooting occurred in a playground in front of the four-year-old girl.Like Dostoevsky, Truman Capote, Richard Wright, and Dav [...]

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