In 'The Suspect' Richard Jewell's Innocence Is Reconsidered, Over 20 Years After The 1996 Olympics

Dec 6, 2019

Richard Jewell was front page news after he was suspected to have planted a bomb at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. A new book and movie unpack his ordeal and innocence.


Kevin Salwen, Former Wall Street Journal reporter and editor, who oversaw southeastern coverage of the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. Co-author of “The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, The FBI, The Media, And Richard Jewell, The Man Caught In The Middle.” (@kevinsalwen)

Kent Alexander, Former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Co-author of “The Suspect.” (@kentbale)

From The Reading List

Excerpted from “The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, The FBI, The Media, And Richard Jewell, The Man Caught In The Middle” by Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen. Copyright © Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen. Published by Abrams Press. Reprinted with permission.

Wall Street Journal: “‘The Suspect’ Review: Collateral Damage” — “The last thing the FBI needs at the moment is a painstaking re-examination of one of the most embarrassing episodes in its long and mostly effective history. But a new book about the bureau’s hunt for the man who planted a bomb at the 1996 Summer Olympics shows the G-men at their bureaucratic worst. The victims were not only the dead and maimed but also a bumbling security guard named Richard Jewell, who was stigmatized for life by the FBI and the media.

“Intensively reported and fluidly written, “The Suspect” details the yearslong search for the real killer. It’s the work of Kent Alexander, who was the U.S. attorney in Atlanta at the time of the crime, and Kevin Salwen, a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, and it is a cautionary tale about the fallibility of the storied feds, the role of luck in breaking big cases, and the conflicted choices faced by the media even at the dawn of the digital age.

“The terror attack in Atlanta on July 27, 1996, should have been a textbook case for the FBI. One of its top security experts worked for years with the planners of the extravaganza, the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympics, which drew athletes from 197 nations and millions of spectators. The organizers hired thousands of men and women to augment the security provided by city, state and federal agencies. One of them was Richard Jewell, a well-meaning but inept 33-year-old who had lost a police job and was working as a rent-a-cop at a local college.”

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