From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this skillfully wrought, powerful study, a terrorism expert, national security adviser (The Ultimate Terrorists
), and lecturer at Harvard, returns to a definitive episode of terror in her own early life and traces its grim, damaging ramifications. Having grown up in Concord, Mass., in 1973, Stern, then 15, and her sister, a year younger, were forcibly raped at gunpoint by an unknown intruder; when the police reopened the case in 2006, Stern was compelled to confront the devastating experience. The police initially tied the case to a local serial rapist, who served 18 years in prison before hanging himself. Stern's painful journey takes her back to the traumatic aftershocks of the rape, when she began to affect a stern, hard veneer not unlike the stiff-upper-lip approach to survival her own German-born Jewish father had assumed after his childhood years living through Nazi persecution. Covering up her deep-seated sense of shame with entrenched silence, Stern had a classic post-traumatic stress disorder—which she was only able to recognize after her own work interviewing terrorists. Stern's work is a strong, clear-eyed, elucidating study of the profound reverberations of trauma. (July)
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*Starred Review* Much of the power of this memoir comes from the central irony that its author, who has traveled the world for 20 years interviewing terrorists, plotting counterterrorism strategies, and advising people with post-traumatic stress disorders, is herself a PTSD sufferer, the effect of a trauma she kept so locked down that, until recently, she wasn’t aware of how it had commandeered her life. Stern, who has a doctorate in public policy from Harvard, lectures at Harvard Law School and is the author of the acclaimed Terror in the Name of God (2003). When she was 15, a home invader raped Jessica and her 14-year-old sister in their Concord, Massachusetts, home. Police doubted their stories, their father took a stiff-upper-lip approach, and Jessica learned to substitute accomplishment for feeling. Finally, her extreme lack of feeling urged her to investigate what happened. Part of this book is her search, with the help of a cop who believes her, for the identify of the man who raped her and what happened to him. While this is satisfying on a cold-case level, far more suspenseful is Stern’s chronicle of what PTSD feels like and her struggle to surmount it. Stern dedicates her book to all the victims of terrorism and assault. Wonderfully compassionate, absorbing reading for anyone. --Connie Fletcher