In 1885 Leland and Jane Stanford co-founded Stanford University in honor of their only son, Leland Jr., that had died of typhoid fever in 1884 at 15. After Leland Sr died in 1893, Jane became the became the chief funder and steward of the university.
While there was a board of trustees and president, she was very heavily involved to the point of complaining about the cost of things like door stops bought by specific departments. There truly was no decision that she felt was below her input and she had a way of giving orders so that it would make others look like the bad guys; she never wanted the blowback from her decisions.
She dictated the hiring and firing and wouldn’t take no for an answer even when it was explained to her that the decision would reflect negatively on the university. There were a string of kerfluffles through her tenure that hampered the universities name and ability to hire top professors.
All of the details of each “affair”, as the internal squabbles were called, wouldn’t be all that interesting if they hadn’t been leading up to a big blowout of some kind or another. The big blowout in Jane Standford’s case was her murder. A murder that the trustees and president moved hell and high water to have called an accident or a suicide.
They succeded, no one was every charged with the poisoning murder of Jane Stanford and to this day, the identity of her murderer is debated often.
Wright has laid out the story and his case like building blocks, each episode of tension leading to the next until finally on February 28, 1905, Jane Stanford was murdered. Then he shows all of the ways that they did their best to cover up all evidence of said murder. It worked.
This was a fabulous read.