“Meyer Levin’s astonishingly good novel is a period piece twice over […] COMPULSION is smartly structured to maximize suspense, and the book’s title is descriptive of the urge a reader feels to keep turning pages. The world of the upper class Chicago families is rendered in fine-stitched detail […] As psychological throller and as courtroom drama, this novel has few peers; it ascends to a Dostoyevskian level.”
“Before IN COLD BLOOD, before THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG, Meyer Levin’s COMPULSION was the standard-bearer for what we think of as the nonfiction novel […] Meyer Levin’s masterful skill as a writer and profound psychological insight into the characters of Nathan Leopold (transformed in the novel into Judd Steiner) and Richard Loeb (fictionalized as Artie Straus) produced a powerful, nuanced, and impressively credible depiction of two equally—but differently—disturbed minds.”
“Levin brings a compelling creative power rooted both in subjectivity and objectivity [...] he writes with the immediacy and intimacy of first-hand knowledge of the principals in the case. To this he adds the maturity of a man and novelist who probes the influences, the motives and compulsions, the psychological and pathological forces, that led to the monstrous crime [...] Mr. Levin succeeds brilliantly in creating high suspense in his fictional retelling of it.”
New York Herald Tribune Book Review
"Levin makes the senseless brutality of the murderers palpable, as well as the suffering of the survivors, who include Steiner’s devastated father, unable to comprehend how his child could become a killer [...] this holds up as a landmark legal thriller."
"Paying close attention to historical detail, COMPULSION is a deftly crafted novel that documents author Meyer Levin as a particularly gifted storyteller that will keep his readers total engaged from beginning to end."
“COMPULSION is one of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read. It will bring to mind classic Russian psychological novels; it was a groundbreaking novel in 1956 and it stands up superbly today.”