Who Killed Jane Stanford? by Richard White

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Who Killed Jane Stanford:

Stanford was ridiculous when it was founded!

Quick synopsis:

The murder of Jane Stanford, one of the founders of Stanford University.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Stanford was founded due to the death of the Stanfords’ only child.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

A line written by the author after explaining multiple ridiculous business decisions by Jane Stanford: “Universities were not supposed to run like this.” I am still laughing.

My Take on Who Killed Jane Stanford:

When is a murder not a murder? When an entire university is at stake, apparently.

In this highly readable true crime book by Richard White, we are introduced to the absolute insanity that is the founding and early years of Stanford University. Leland and Jane Stanford found the university in honor of their young son who passed too soon. After the death of Leland, Jane begins a tyranny over the university with increasing capriciousness that ultimately leads to her murder. White dives deep into the surviving documentation to try and understand how what was very clearly a murder was ultimately deemed natural causes by some authorities.

How can I be so sure Jane Stanford’s poisoning was murder? Because the murderer tried to poison her a month before but failed. You can only believe in so many coincidences.

White writes a wonderful book which is easy to read and will appeal to anyone who loves true crime or even just the absurdity of early Stanford politics.


A great true crime book which will continually surprise you. Read it! Buy it here!

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