Book Review: If I Did It

Following the 1995 acquittal of legendary NFL running back O.J. Simpson for double-homicide, many memoirs would derive from the ashes of the “Trial of the Century” penned by many key players involved in the media frenzied story which captured the global public’s imagination for over a full year. But perhaps no book was more eagerly anticipated than that of the defendant himself.

Simpson, accused in the June 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown and her friend, Ron Goldman, offers his side of the story (sort of) in If I Did It, released in September 2007. Marketed as a “hypothetical” version of events if Simpson had committed the crimes, the former football hero chronicles his relationship with Brown leading up to that tragic pre-summer evening and the fallout from the murders until his arrest five days later.

Simpson’s presentation of events surrounding the Brown-Goldman murders is interesting, in a word. Obviously, the central part of the book – and the basis for its conception – is the sixth chapter, titled “The Night in Question.” Here, Simpson offers what he describes as a theoretical scenario of him (accompanied by a friend Simpson refers to as “Charlie”) stabbing his former wife and Ron Goldman to death.

At least that is what we may assume, considering Simpson does not actually admit to remembering the murders. Instead, the athlete-turned-actor places himself in the courtyard of Brown’s condominium covered in blood and holding a knife, with no apparent recollection of the brutality which befell the two lifeless people in front of him.

Obviously, Simpson’s hypothetical confession comes off as disappointing, lame and lacking of validity. While I did not delve into If I Did It hoping for a graphic first-hand account of two gory murders, Simpson’s words read as those of a man unwilling to accept responsibility for his own violent actions.

Simpson makes a number of other eyebrow-raising claims within the pages of If I Did It. First, let’s tackle the infamous white bronco chase. While Simpson admits to being suicidal that day, he insists that he and longtime friend A.C. Cowlings were on their way to Simpson’s Rockingham estate as the two led police on a low-speed pursuit on Los Angeles freeways. This is certainly contradictory to the recorded telephone conversation between Simpson and L.A.P.D. detective Tom Lange from inside the bronco, where the officer appears to cannily sway a seemingly suicidal Simpson from shooting himself (a discussion which goes completely unacknowledged in the book).

The author denies that he murdered Brown in a passionate rage over his desire to be with her. In fact, Simpson adamantly states several times that it was she who continuously hoped for reconciliation in their marriage and even describes an occasion where Brown sent him a letter along with the couple’s wedding tape in hopes of reuniting their family. This causes the reader (or at least this one) to wonder why Simpson didn’t produce such documentation of his ex-wife’s adoration for him during his criminal or civil trials.

Simpson questions the report that he recorded a tape about his life prior to the bronco incident, saying he would love to hear it someday. Well, should “The Juice” happen to be reading, I gladly direct him to the 2015 Lifetime Movie Network special, The Secret Tapes of the O.J. Case: The Untold Story – the basis of which is that very recording Simpson has apparently forgotten about.

Simpson does not address the criminal or civil court proceedings in the book. Instead, If I Did It concludes with the fallen gridiron hero being booked for the double-homicide of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

In addition to Simpson’s account, If I Did It includes passages from the Goldman family, late investigative journalist Dominick Dunne (who sat next to Kim Goldman during Simpson’s criminal trial), the book’s ghostwriter, Pablo Fenjves and attorney Peter T. Haven, who assisted the Goldmans in acquiring the publishing rights to If I Did It.

Purchasing information for If I Did It is available courtesy of Midpoint Publishers here.

(Special thanks to Megan Trank at Beaufort Books)

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