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CAGED EYES

AN AIR FORCE CADET'S STORY OF RAPE AND RESILIENCE

A slow read in some places but worth it for a deeper understanding of an important issue.

A personal account of sexual assault in the military, from the point of view of a cadet in the Air Force Academy.

Hall, a crisis counselor and survivor advocate, begins the book with the story of her turbulent childhood (absent biological father, mercurial mother, and another abusive father figure), the experience of which gave her the determination to make herself an astronaut. Along her path, she was sexually assaulted by not one, but three men, including an upperclassman who had already been accused of rape and infected her with herpes. Hall focuses largely on the aftermath of rape rather than the attacks themselves, and she provides a well-written account of the many injustices—not just sexual assault—suffered by women in the military: doctors who ignore symptoms and make no effort to treat illnesses, the fear of reporting both the assault and the illness, and the casual insults that reinforce shame and lack of self-worth. “The culture we lived in, particularly in the military, only reinforced the idea that we were to blame,” she writes. As she wrote, Hall was coming to terms with the extent of her trauma and inability to cope. In addition to wrestling with the countless difficult emotions that her experiences provoked, Hall opens a window onto sexual assault in general and the effect it has immediately and years, even decades, afterward. While it may not be the right read for everyone due to its unique point of view and profusion of self-blame, it will certainly enlighten those who overcome their discomfort long enough to understand that by taking readers along on her journey, Hall allows them to truly understand how victims internalize the worst accusations of the culture around them and the monumental effort needed to combat their own self-doubt.

A slow read in some places but worth it for a deeper understanding of an important issue.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8070-8933-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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