O.J. Is Still Beating His Wife
A review of If I Did It.
I have no idea how much of this is true. Allen denied in the civil suit against O.J. that he'd ever had sex with Nicole and alleged that during the criminal trial, O.J. had asked him to impeach Nicole's character by saying they'd been lovers. On the other hand, Jeffrey Toobin reports in The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpsonthat Allen had "an on-and-off affair with Nicole" and that some of Nicole's friends believed that was partly what drove O.J. to kill her. All one can conclude is that O.J. and Nicole had a turbulent relationship, especially after the breakup of their marriage, and that Nicole isn't here to quarrel about who was the predator and who the prey.
Where a documentary record exists, O.J.'s version of events holds up poorly. For instance, O.J. relates a late-night quarrel with Nicole while the two of them were married that ended with Nicole calling the police. According to O.J., Nicole flew into a jealous rage because she believed he'd bought expensive earrings for another woman. "She took a swing at me and I grabbed her arm and literally dragged her out of bed and pulled her toward the door." Then "I pushed her into the corridor and locked her out" of the bedroom. She came back with a key, and he wrestled it from her hand and pushed her out again. End of story. Next thing O.J. knows, the cops are there. Nicole goes downtown and gets photographed. The police report, O.J. tells us, says there are bruises on her face. "I didn't hit her," O.J. writes, "but it's possible she hurt herself while we were scuffling." Even without consulting other sources, one can tell this is an obvious lie.
Now let's take a look at that police report. One detail O.J. left out of his account, we learn, is that Nicole yelled out to the police, "He's going to kill me, he's going to kill me," then repeated it a third time as an LAPD officer comforted her. Simpson doesn't deny this happened; he simply airbrushes it out. In the book, O.J. says he was flabbergasted ("What the hell was she talking about?") when Nicole told the cops they'd been called to the house eight times previously. In the police report, both Nicole and O.J. affirm that the cops have been called to the house eight times previously, Nicole to argue that the police should arrest O.J., and O.J. to argue that it's no big deal, this happens all the time, nobody has ever made a federal case about our little spats before and therefore neither should you. Again, Simpson doesn't dispute this in his book; he just leaves it out. A final detail missing from O.J.'s account is that when the officer tried to arrest him he jumped into his Bentley and sped off. Next time it would be a white Bronco.
Is O.J. deliberately deceiving his readers? Perhaps. More likely, though, he is telling us what he wants to believe, which is that Nicole was a crazy woman who tormented and demonized her ex-husband. This is worth knowing, because it's almost certainly what O.J. believed when he killed Nicole. It's why he killed her, even though much and possibly all of it was a delusion. "Nicole was the enemy," O.J. realizes as he leaves for her house with a knife in the car. "I'm tired of being the understanding ex-husband. I have my kids to think about." By now, we've entered the portion of the narrative O.J. has demarcated "hypothetical." But it's much more persuasive than much of what O.J. has previously characterized as the gospel truth.
He did it because he had to. He did it for the kids.
To read the second half of this review, click here.
[Update, Aug. 31: Sharlene Martin, the Goldman family's agent for the book, informs me by e-mail that the book cover described and reproduced here has since been replaced by another design that hasn't yet been made public.]
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.