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The Run of His Life

The People Versus O. J. Simpson

By Jeffrey Toobin
12-minute read
Audio available
The Run of His Life: The People Versus O. J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin

The Run of His Life (1997) examines the essentials of the O. J. Simpson murder case: the personalities involved and the social forces that led to the shocking acquittal of this football superstar. These blinks don’t just chronicle the story of one man but also explore how American society turned Simpson’s story of triumph into one of tragedy.

  • True crime fans
  • Pop culture junkies
  • People interested in understanding race relations in America

Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of several other bestselling books, including The Oath, The Nine and A Vast Conspiracy. He is also a senior legal analyst at CNN.

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The Run of His Life

The People Versus O. J. Simpson

By Jeffrey Toobin
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The Run of His Life: The People Versus O. J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin
Synopsis

The Run of His Life (1997) examines the essentials of the O. J. Simpson murder case: the personalities involved and the social forces that led to the shocking acquittal of this football superstar. These blinks don’t just chronicle the story of one man but also explore how American society turned Simpson’s story of triumph into one of tragedy.

Key idea 1 of 7

O. J. Simpson was a popular, beloved football player and American celebrity.

Orenthal James Simpson – known simply as O. J. Simpson – was born in 1947 in San Francisco. After a troubled childhood rife with school fights and shoplifting, he became involved in sports and proved to be an excellent athlete. He saw sports as the perfect path to success.

He accepted a football scholarship to attend the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. He chose USC and its media-magnet football team specifically for its celebrity status, and his athleticism and charm soon gained him admiration as well.

Even though O. J. was a black athlete at a wealthy, predominantly white school, his celebrity as a football star erased any issues of race. The city of Los Angeles – a place where celebrities are cherished and respected – was a perfect fit for his aspirations.

Yet this was the 1960s, and racial tensions ran high in America. Many of O. J.’s contemporaries, such as Muhammed Ali and Jackie Robinson, were vocal about race issues. Simpson, on the other hand, was not an activist; he didn’t involve himself in politics or the civil rights movement at all.

O.J. – or, as many people called him, “The Juice” – wasn’t necessarily interested in issues of racial equality; instead, he craved money and fame.

In fact, O. J. had always been good at getting what he wanted and was soon drafted to play professional football for the Buffalo Bills in New York state. From this launching pad, O. J. successfully maneuvered himself into opportunities that would help him achieve his goals.

As his fame in the football world grew, O. J. built on his popularity to expand his business interests off the field, with endorsement contracts with automobile company Chevrolet and a broadcasting deal with ABC. He even starred in a few movies and popular television ads in the 1970s.

By the 1990s, O. J. had long retired from sports but still presented a clean-cut and lovable public image, continuing above all to excel at what he did best: being O. J.

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