The Onion Field: A Brief Summary

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CARRILLO 1 Truman Capote, American novelist, would describe The Onion Field as “A distinguished novel.’ A fascinating account of a double tragedy: One physical, the other psychological.” The Onion Field is a heartbreaking, non-fiction, crime novel written by Joseph Wambaugh. In this book, Joseph Wambaugh tells the tale of the unfortunate fate for two young cops when they encounter two petty robbers. The first half of this fascinating book, it describes their childhood, the crime, and the police work. In the second half, it describes the legal proceedings and the effect that the case had on law enforcement. In the Onion Field, Wambaugh begins by introducing its four main characters: Ian Campbell, Karl Hettinger, Jimmy “Youngblood” Smith, and Gregory Ulas Powell. He talks about all four characters' backgrounds which show the differences in their childhoods. He talks about Karl Hettinger growing up with both parents and living a quiet life. He also mentions how he graduated high school early and began college at sixteen, but dropped out of college three weeks before his last semester ended. Karl then joined the police force and met his wife at his roommates’ party. Ian Campbell’s father died of cancer…show more content…
They put Karl in the backseat floor, with his knees to his chin, and with a flashlight in his hand. They had Ian driving with Gregory in the middle pointing the gun at Ian, and Jimmy was next to Gregory. During the drive, Gregory mentioned the Lindbergh law to Jimmy. The Lindbergh Act is “a federal law (48 Stat. 781) that makes it a crime to kidnap—for ransom, reward, or otherwise—and transport a victim from one state to another or to a foreign country, except in the case of a minor abducted by his or her parent.” They thought it meant that just by kidnapping a police officer, or in their case two, that they would receive an automatic death
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