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Monstering: Inside America's Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War [Hardcover]

Tara McKelvey
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, May 11, 2007 --  
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Book Description

May 11, 2007 0786717769 978-0786717767
In April 2004, the Abu Ghraib photographs set off an international scandal. Yet until now, the full story has never been told. Tara McKelvey — the first U.S.journalist to speak with female prisoners from Abu Ghraib — traveled to the Middle East and across the United States to seek out victims and perpetrators. McKelvey tells how soldiers, acting in an atmosphere that encouraged abuse and sadism, were unleashed on a prison population of which the vast majority, according to army documents, were innocent civilians. Drawing upon critical sources, she discloses a series of explosive revelations: An exclusive jailhouse interview with Lynndie England connects the Abu Ghraib pictures to lewd vacation photos taken by England's boyfriend Charles Graner; formerly undisclosed videotapes show soldiers "Robotripping" on cocktails of over-the-counter drugs while pretending to stab detainees; new material sheds light on accusations against an American suspected of raping an Iraqi child; and first-hand accounts suggest the use of high-voltage devises, sexual humiliation and pharmaceutical drugs on Iraqi prisoners. She also provides an inside look at Justice Department theories of presidential power to show how the many abuses were licensed by the government.

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Editorial Reviews


"Embraces the scope of the tragedy and reminds us of the cost of war." -- Errol Morris, filmmaker, Fog of War

"Monstering takes the reader into a hellish world and advances the story, disclosing revelations of power gone wrong." -- David Corn, co-author, Hubris

"Must-reading for those who seek to understand the sordid side of the terror war." -- Karen Greenberg, co-editor, The Torture Papers

"Tara McKelvey is an extraordinarily gifted writer and Monstering is an extraordinary book." -- James Bamford, author, Pretext for War

"This is a powerful account of the most shameful behavior by an American government in recent memory." -- Anthony Lewis, former New York Times columnist

About the Author

Tara McKelvey is a senior editor at The American Prospect, and a contributing editor at Marie Claire magazine. She is also a research fellow at the NYU School of Law’s Center on Law and Security and has writen for The New York Times Book Review and The Nation among other publications. She lives in Washington, DC.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786717769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786717767
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,068,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars McKelvey gets it about right.... August 31, 2007
I think I can say this with some authority, as I sit here in Iraq on my third year-long tour, having worked at Guantanamo and having spent a year with detainee operations in Iraq as part of the team that went in to improve conditions at Abu Ghraib in spring of '04. Unfortunately, most people will probably read into her words reinforcement of their own pre-conceived notions, whatever those may be. But I see a fair amount of balance and caution in her words. Bad thing have happened with detainees. Those responsible have and must be held accountable. The system must continue to change for the better. Having said this, the vast majority of troops and leaders doing the job are trustworthy and accomplishing a task that is probably one of the most difficult presented to any of our military members. They have earned my respect. The one thing I would have pushed her to do in preparing for this book -- the thing not reflected -- is spending a month with our troops on the ground so she could present this with a more enlightened perspective of the realities of today's combat, complete with the hows and whys of detaining people. She only scratches the surface of the complexities of this business and only really presents it from one side, using mostly spokesmen (including myself) to fill in the gaps from the military side. This is a book worth reading, with a reflective and unbiased eye.
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sent chills down my spine June 15, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An amazing account of reprehensible and shameful behavior all in our name. I have voted a straight Republican ticket my whole life and for the first time I am doubting my convictions. McKelvey succeeded in making my cry to read such an utter lack of humanity. The Haditha incident seems to be even worse. I tried to share the book with several GOP colleagues at work, but they became almost hysterical. They said they would not believe the lies and that trusted Rush Limbaugh's account of the incidents more (ie that they were like frat pranks). I don't know what to think any more but I thank the author for such a powerful work.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A necessary and riveting book August 17, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Tara McKelvey's account of the abuses at Agu Ghraib, in particular the abuses visited upon women prisoners, fleshes out the accounts we've read in newspapers of this scandal, and gives us personal testimony by some of the women who've been raped, as well as the first interview with Lyndie England, the woman holding the leash in one of the photographs that became infamous. That so many women who were raped and tortured at Abu Ghraib were afraid to come forward because their own families might have killed them if they'd known they were raped is among the many horrors this book reveals. That we have now become a nation whose official policy is to torture is a shame we ought all to confront, and change, and this book is an important document that every American should read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very impressive book February 23, 2013
Monstering by Tara McKelvey is a fast-paced, in-depth look at the dificult subject of torture written in the highest journalistic style.
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