Annal: 1998 Gold Dagger Award for Nonfiction

Results of the Dagger Award in the year 1998.

Book:Cries Unheard

Cries Unheard: The Story of Mary Bell

Gitta Sereny

What brings one child to kill another? In 1968, at age eleven, Mary Bell was tried and convicted of murdering two small boys in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Throughout her coverage of the sensational trial, Gitta Sereny never believed the characterizations of Bell as the incarnation of evil, the bad seed personified. If we are ever to understand the pressures that lead children to commit serious crimes, she felt, only those children, as adults, can enlighten us.

Twenty-seven years after her conviction, Mary Bell agreed to talk to Sereny about her harrowing childhood, her two terrible acts, her public trial, and her twelve years of imprisonment. Her devastating story forces us to ponder society’s responsibility for children at the breaking point, whether in Newcastle, England, or Littleton, Colorado.

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