Cyanide and Sin. Visualizing Crime in 50's America. Text by Will Straw, book design by Alexander Gelman and Andrew Roth. PPP Editions, 2006. 192 pp., illustrated throughout, 9x12". Edition of 3000 copies. Images from here.
I'm a massive fan of pulp fiction books and true crime magazines from the 50s so I can't quite believe I haven't found this book until now, really is a pretty great selection.
" 'Cyanide and Sin' offers a broad history of the true crime magazine in America with an emphasis on its visual content, during the 1950s.
[...]There have been numerous publications on the history of pulp and crime fiction. 'Cyanide and Sin' is the first book to look at the impact of the visuals used to accompany these stories.
As Straw writes: 'Crime lent itself readily to some of the most powerful impulses within modern image-making. It gave photographers drawn to social marginality subjects with which to avoid the sentimentality that too easily clings to images of the poor or downtrodden. Crime photography has served as the basis for transgressive violations of good taste, and for romantic glorifications of the doomed life. The images assembled in true crime magazines over their 80 year history have moved ceaselessly between what photographic historian Allan Sekula calls the honorific and repressive functions of photography. Images celebrating an extravagant individuality, for instance, have sat alongside others calling for citizen complicity in the enforcement of state power'. "