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Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town Hardcover – April 21, 2015

4.1 out of 5 stars 950 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of April 2015: Toward the end of this powerful, absorbing book, best-selling author Jon Krakauer quotes a jury member as she sums up popular assumptions about sexual assault: “(1) A stranger jumps out from the bushes; (2) There is no (assault) unless the woman puts up a fight, to the death if necessary.” The truth is much different—assaults by acquaintances are by far the most common form of the crime. In Missoula, Krakauer examines one community’s struggle with such accusations, shining a bright light on a problem that frequently goes underreported and is all-too-easy to sweep under the rug. Not only must victims contend with the after-effects of the crime, they must often face doubting police, antagonistic lawyers, and the whims of popular opinion. Some of the reported assaults in Krakauer’s book involved members of the University of Montana’s beloved Grizzly football team. Using facts and documentation balanced by interviews and courtroom drama, he builds a gem of narrative nonfiction that will educate and incite. As the story builds, culminating in two different trials with two different outcomes, readers will find themselves consumed by the factual and emotional complexities of the subject. No page turner this year will be more incendiary than Missoula. – Chris Schluep


"[H]arrowing.... [I]ncisive.... Krakauer's investigation will succeed in altering the conversation around sexual violence.... Missoula will undoubtedly fortify those of us who have already broken our silence and may rally those who have not dared to.”
Los Angeles Times

"Excellent.... Krakauer doesn't just tell the story of these crimes. As he has done so brilliantly in his other books...he sets the story firmly in the context of social history."
Boston Globe

[A] narrative nonfiction page-turner.... Missoula demonstrates that it’s not only possible but advantageous for reporters to remain clear-eye while also taking victims’ concerns into account. Krakauer skillfully strengthens his sources’ recollections without taking away their agency. He doesn’t hide from complexity or nuance.
— Katie Baker, BuzzFeed

"[E]xpertly researched.... Equal parts riveting and horrifying, it's a hell of a read--and a necessary one."

[M]eticulously reported, fascinating and deeply disturbing.... By probing the specific, Krakauer illuminates upsetting generalities..... Krakauer—a journalist who is also a compelling writer—artfully keeps the books from becoming a compendium of facts..... It’s an important, difficult and timely subject.”
USA Today

A good and needed thing.... [P]owerful.... Krakauer tells a sad an infuriating story.... Krakauer has done a great service by taking on this subject.” 

[A] case study of the widespread problem of campus rape.... For anyone distressed by the high rate of sexual assault afflicting young woman, and who wants to understand some of the ways in which the justice system fails them—and shouldn’t that be all of us?—Krakauer’s book is worth reading.”

"[A] devestating exposé of colleges and local law enforcement when it comes to investigating and prosecuting campus sex crimes.... [A] substantive deep dive into the morass of campus sex crimes, where the victim is too often treated like the accused." 
Entertainment Weekly 
[S]crupulously reported... The depth of [Krakauer’s] reporting...illustrates just how difficult it can be for victims to get justice.”
— Salon  

"[R]elentless, exhaustive.... Krakauer does not pretend to be scooping anyone. Instead, he systematically details the many myths surrounding rape and the many ways in which our society mistreats victims long after the actual assault."

"[C]lear and dispassionate, offering level-headed, in-depth reportage.... [T]he disquieting fact running through Krakauer's narrative is this: Missoula is typical."
Chicago Tribune

"[A]n impassioned study of campus rape.... Krakauer’s evocative reporting, honed to a fine edge of anger, vividly conveys the ordeal of victims and their ongoing psychological dislocations. The result is a hard-hitting true-crime expose that looks underneath the he-said-she-said to get at the sexist assumptions that help cover up and enable these crimes.” 
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (April 21, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385538731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385538732
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (950 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just finished Missoula and found it to be one of the best nonfiction books I have ever read. I live in Montana and 30 years ago I went to college in Montana-not at The university of Montana in Missoula. My senior year my apartment was broken into and I was raped by a guy I had been out at a bar with that evening. Later that year I went to a bar with friends who left me. I needed a ride home and a guy I kinda knew offered me a ride in his pickup. I had not been drinking. He drove past my apartment and continued to drive fast to his place out of town and only took me home after he raped me- I thought I was going to die that night. Keep in mind that I had only gone to bars a handful of times in 4 years of college when these rapes happened to me. Either I was extremely unlucky or rapes are very common. Ask any sampling of 5 women and you will find that at least 3 have been sexually traumatized at least once during their lifetime.

Campus rapes and non campus rapes are almost epidemic in our society. Thank you Mr. Krakauer for researching and writing Missoula. It was a hard book for me to read, but worth every tear I shed. After each chapter I had to go outside and walk off the fear and memories. The young women whose stories you told so eloquently are much braver and stronger than I ever was when it happened to me. Thank You.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "Missoula" Krakauer presents, sometimes in agonizing detail, the lasting injuries inflicted upon several women in Montana who were sexually assaulted, often times by members of the Grizzlies football team. From the assaults themselves, to the invasive post-rape examination, to equally invasive and character defaming trials, to the blowback from a community inclined to support football over all, it's a stunning presentation of our flawed court system, and the manner in which rape victims are treated.

Supported by research, Department of Justice investigations, trial observation, and victim testimony, "Missoula" seeks to underscore that victim status is not tidily resolved at the conclusion of a trial, and justice is hard-won, particularly when the accused struggles to understand their guilt. The level of denial presented by families, in particular -- even when confronted with outright admission of guilt -- shows that the court system begs for crime to not be crime, if the person can make something of themselves eventually. While this book is set in the same town as the title, it is also Any College Town, America -- and is a book that everyone should read.

"Missoula" has heroes, like police detective Guy Baker who encouraged Allison Huguet to report Beau Donaldson, and persuaded Hillary McLaughlin to testify about an attempted rape at Donaldson's trial. It also champions Charles Couture, former University of Montana Dean of Students, who conducted investigations into three of the rape cases presented in this book, and chose not to bow to community pressures to favor football players. The book also has its villains, like Kirsten Pabst, a prosecutor who actually showed up at a college hearing in defense of the accused.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book made me think more about rape in the past three days than I have in my previous 46 years. I am very glad he wrote it.

The women in this book are heroes to me. By facing their detractors and demons they inspired this book, which will be widely read. They brought focus, and hopefully change, to a prevalent, largely invisible, and incredibly damaging social problem. Many victims will be inspired by them to speak out, and as a result WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM WILL NOT HAPPEN TO MANY OTHERS BECAUSE OF THEIR BRAVERY!

I've already talked to my 12 and 14 year old boys about the situations and consequences from this book. We spend a lot of time talking to women about avoiding these bad situations, but not nearly enough to young men. The young men in the book irrevocably damaged the lives of these women, but also their own lives, their families and their communities.

It is also clear from this book how alcohol played a role in the majority of the rapes in this story.

Our national propensity for protecting the bad behavior of athletes, particularly football players, is a sickness. I am a Packers fan -- but this book reminded me of how entitled and above the rest of society some athletes feel they are. The reaction and attack on the victims from many in Missoula should be cause for deep national reflection.

As Krakauer alludes to -- this book probably could have been written in any college town. I think the title is unfortunate and unfair to Missoula which is a great community and full of many wonderful human beings.

Coming on the heels of the Rolling Stone article which proved to be a false accusation of rape shows how lives can just as easily be ruined by a women willing to make a false rape accusation.
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"We will have to wait a while longer for the book Krakauer might have written, the one that explores from the inside all the social factors that produce and enable so many young men who prefer drunk, drugged, supine, knocked-cold or forcibly restrained female flesh to consensual sex with conscious and willing women."-- Newsweek

As a longtime fan of Krakauer, I looked forward to the type of insightful cultural dissection that helps to explain the unexplainable, as he has done in his other books, esp Into the Wild and Under the Banner of Heaven.

Instead, Krakauer focuses mainly on the Missoula County Attorney's Office's mistakes in prosecuting reported rape cases. I was surprised to encounter Krakauer's opinion column style as he eviscerated the people responsible for the mishandling, namely Kirsten Pabst, when I had been accustomed to an unbiased perspective from my favorite nonfiction writer. In Missoula, Krakauer was often as hostile as the people he was lambasting. He hurt his case by adding embellishment where none was needed. As another reviewer said, he let his bias show.

Nevertheless, when he does focus on the perplexing circumstances around acquaintance rape, he hits the nail on the head, elucidating some of the myths about rape and the culture of entitlement among college-aged men, especially athletes.

"It pissed me off that she played along the whole way and then decided to squirm out of it like that at the end. I mean, she was so plastered that she probably didn't know what was going on, anyway."

This is the problem, stated simply by a serial rapist who would never think to call himself one.
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