A flawed but fascinating examination of the unsettling intersection of a child molester, the Mormon Church and the American...

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THE SINS OF BROTHER CURTIS

A STORY OF BETRAYAL, CONVICTION, AND THE MORMON CHURCH

A detailed investigation into a serial pedophile and respected elder in the Mormon Church whose years as a child molester continued even after church leaders were alerted to the abuse.

Davis’ experience as a journalist proves invaluable in this inquiry into Brother Frank Curtis and the flood of destruction his abuse brought to several Mormon communities. In addition to revealing the emotional and psychological damage caused by Curtis’ horrendous sexual violations, the author divulges the gross negligence and, in some cases, intentional cover-up by bishops and other church leaders when the abuse was discovered. The backbone of the narrative is a lawsuit involving the victims, the Church of Latter Day Saints and the lawyers on both sides of the conflict. The main player is Tim Kosnoff, a lawyer for 18-year-old Jeremiah Scott, a childhood victim of Curtis who decided as an adult to sue the Mormon Church for its role. Davis uses the lawsuit to connect different narrative threads, including Curtis’ early life as a supposed small-time Chicago gangster working for Al Capone, the varied stories of many sex-abuse victims and the lives of the attorneys and investigators working on the case. The story is profoundly disturbing, especially when the author reveals the actual abuse followed by the seemingly insidious attempts of the Mormon Church to shield its members and its doctrines through legal loopholes like the clergy-penitent privilege. At times, the narrative becomes bogged down in legal minutiae and legal tit-for-tat. Also, the personal stories of all the people involved are often summarized rather than revealed through narration, characterization and dialogue, which leaves the reader wishing for more vivid scenes and creative storytelling rather than straight, unadorned reportage.

A flawed but fascinating examination of the unsettling intersection of a child molester, the Mormon Church and the American legal system.

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4165-9103-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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