CNN’s Jeffrey Toobinhas written bestsellers about the Supreme Court and OJ Simpson, now he turns his attention to another real-life drama, in ‘American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.’

Jim Braude: Jeffery, thanks for being here.

Jeffery Toobin: Good to be here, Jim.

JB: So this happened 40 plus years ago. How does someone like you decide I'm going to spend a significant chunk of my life on this? What was the allure?

JT:  Well there was something specific that led me to it. I did a piece for The New Yorker about three years ago about a jail in Baltimore that had been taken over by a gang called the Black Guerrilla Family. And I got interested in the history of the Black Guerrilla Family which as it turned out had been founded in the California prisons in the 1970s by a celebrated notorious prisoner named George Jackson. And I got interested in, the California prisons in the 70s were a tremendous hotbed of political activity, and the Symbionese Liberation Army, the group that kidnapped Patty Hearst came out of that same world.

JB: And that was the root and so sort of back door it was not Patty Hearst as much as.

JT: It was not. And in fact my editor at Doubleday, Bill Thomas he said to me what about Patty Hearst. And I said well come on there must be a million books about Patty Hearst. And he said well go look. And I found to my surprise and frankly to my delight that nothing has been written about the Patty Hearst case in decades.

JB:  Yeah and now that you finally got to the Patty Hearst thing which is the central thing here even if you got there in a fairly curculios route, you  attempt to answer the question that virtually all of us have had forever. I used the word brainwashed into the radio the other day and you didn't like it. So did she join? Did she become part of the SLA on her own volition or was this just the woman who had no idea what she was doing?

JT: This is what my book is about, that question, and the answer is yes. She did join the SLA, yes. You know of her own volition certainly in a legal sense. You know why we do what we do is the most complicated question that artists and writers deal with. So but certainly compared to what the legal standards are compared to how we would describe this in colloquial terms, she did become a member of the SLA. And what I think one of the many things people forget or don't know about this case is that she was on the run for a year and a half and committed an extraordinary number of crimes not just the one bank robbery she was convicted of two other bank robberies, shooting up a street, bombing had many opportunities to walk away, turn herself in, go home and didn't because she was a member of the SLA.

JB: But there are a lot of cases where somebody is, I don’t know a lot. There are a number of celebrity cases where people are kidnapped or taken against their will. Where you in retrospect see there were opportunities for them to free themselves. And they don't whether it's out of fear or this notion that I am part of this for my own survival kind of thing. So is it not possible that that was what motivated her?

JT:  You know I am a journalist on the outside, so I have enough humility to say yes it is possible but all I can do is look at the evidence that is presented to me and that I uncovered in the course of this and you know as I said to you earlier I don't believe that brainwashing and Stockholm Syndrome. They're not in medical terms, they're journalistic terms but in terms of what decision she made she made these decisions to stay.

JB: Why didn't she talk to you then? After the fact she is trashing you, and I think the book's terrific. Why didn't she talk to you?

JT: A couple of reasons. One is she's in her early 60s. She has moved on from this period in her life. She has grandchildren and she is unfortunately a widow now and doesn't want to relive this experience at all. In addition, she has given many interviews over the years almost exclusively to people who don't know the facts of the case very well. And for someone like me who is obviously digging down into the facts I would ask her questions about things she really doesn't want to talk about.

JB: Speaking of her life, and she's now a widow and all the things you said a minute ago, Jeffrey Toobin, when I see the photographs of her recently at the Westminster dog show were her Shih-Tzu or whatever it is won Best in Show or some such thing. I say to myself there's some message there. Is there a message there?

JT:  I mean the message there is we become who we're going to be destined to become anyway, you know. Regardless of the route. The life she has led for decades is the life that she was destined for as a young aristocrat in Hillsboro California. She moved to the east coast but she is a wealthy socialite homemaker with a few somewhat exotic interests she's been in a couple movies. She wrote a couple books but basically she's a rich lady.

JB: You know there are so many interesting characters who you explore beautifully here. But the character that I could never get out of my mind in the 40 plus years was the boyfriend the Steve. Can you give us a synopsis of the world of Steven?

JT: Well Steven Weed was her fiance and one of the things the SLA who kidnapped her didn't know at the time is how unhappy Patty was with her. She was this restless spirit who was looking for a way out and boy did she get one. And Steven during the kidnapping on February 4th, 1974 fled out the back door and did not stay and defend her which is something that Patty, her  family resented. And he was a graduate student in philosophy at the time. Well he didn't become a philosopher. He became a real estate broker in Palo Alto which you know given the real estate market in Palo Alto you can sort of understand. But he is also led a very conventional life. He got married a couple of times, very stable person. They've never said no they have never crossed paths or spoken since the day of the kidnapping.

JB:  So is there a moral to this story or is just a great story and it is a truly great story. Is there a moral to it?

JT: I think there are a couple different morals to it. Well I think if you look at what happened to Patricia in the legal system, the moral is wealth and privilege matter a lot. She was ultimately convicted of the first bank robbery, sentenced to seven years served only 22 months because she got a commutation from Jimmy Carter. She then 20 years later got a pardon from Bill Clinton. She's the only person in American history who has received a commutation from one president and a pardon from another. And when you consider the range of crimes she committed and when you consider how many other people in the federal system have hard luck stories, the fact that she got these privileges is pretty extraordinary.

JB: How did F. Lee Bailey, the celebrated local guy, how did he perform in this case?

JT: It was pretty much a disaster. I mean, he, the short version of the disaster is that he put Patty on the witness stand without getting a ruling from the judge saying that she couldn't be cross-examined about all her other crimes that the U.S. attorney started cross-examining her. The judge allowed it. And Patty 52 times in front of the jury had to take the Fifth, taking the Fifth in front of the jury. You're pretty much doing your client and that's the position he put her.