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The Ride: A Shocking Murder and a Bereaved Father's Journey from Rage to Redemption Hardcover – June 2, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1997, the murder of ten-year-old Jeffrey Curley rocked the blue collar Boston suburb East Cambridge, , an idyllic but scrappy community where, in the crime's aftermath, neighbor quickly turned against neighbor. The murder sparked an intense movement in liberal Massachusetts to reinstate the death penalty; at the outset, one of the movement's most outspoken proponents was Jeffrey's father, Bob Curley. In this vivid account by Boston Globe reporter MacQuarrie, Bob Curley wrestles with the demons of grief, alcoholism and vengeance, as well as family conflict and outsiders' opportunistic political agendas, to emerge a staunch, courageous opponent of capital punishment. His saga will hold particular resonance for readers who struggle with their own opinions on the complex issue. While relating details of the horrific crime, MacQuarrie's style is visceral and haunting, but he loses some steam when focusing on Bob's journey-perhaps because MacQuarrie gives the rest of the Curley family such short shrift. Still, this is a gripping, unusual true crime tale, likely to move readers to tears and sure to inspire personal contemplation.
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Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking
“In [this] riveting story of the redemptive potential of the human spirit, Brian MacQuarrie has opened an unforgettable window into the unspeakable horror of an innocent's murder, and into the towering courage of that boy's father to turn from hate to healing. Robert Curley's radical transformation is a lesson for us all.”

Senator John Kerry
“Compelling and deeply moving, Brian MacQuarrie’s The Ride movingly tells the story of Bob Curley’s journey to hell and back, and the power that comes from having the courage to follow your convictions. Curley’s striking transformation in the face of such unimaginable loss and his subsequent work in channeling his grief into the movement against the death penalty is remarkable. Engrossing and provocative, The Ride forces its readers to probe their most deeply held beliefs and wonder how they’d react if—like Curley—their world was turned upside down.”

David Kaczysnki, brother of the Unabomber and executive director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty
The Ride follows one man’s remarkable journey from unbearable loss to moral epiphany. If anyone had cause to hate, it was Bob Curley after the brutal murder of his young son Jeffrey. But Bob discovers a higher truth as grief over his son sensitizes him to others’ losses, bringing him a new and deeper appreciation of justice. In tracing one man's journey beyond violence, Brian MacQuarrie's excellent book becomes a chronicle of hope for us all.”

Kirkus, 5/1/09
“MacQuarrie’s familiarity with the physical landscape of Boston and its suburbs lends a captivating verisimilitude to the storytelling, and he masterfully captures the rawness of Bob [Curley’s] emotions as he moved from inarticulate rage to a kind of transcendent wisdom. A first-rate combination of true crime and social history.”

Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene, 4/28/09
“A no-holds barred account of the emotional ups and downs that occur over the years for the [Curley] family, placing the reader into the edge of their painful abyss…A study of breaking and redemption of human spirit…An excellent, interesting read.”

Publishersweekly.com, 6/15/09
“[A] vivid account…MacQuarrie’s style is visceral and haunting…This is a gripping, unusual true crime tale, likely to move readers to tears and sure to inspire personal contemplation.”

The Boston Globe, 6/15/09
“A fascinating story of loss, profound anger, pain, and the difficult, soul-searching aftermath of trauma.”

“MacQuarrie has fashioned a tale out of real-life events that is hard to read but important to remember. It’s the story of a child’s pain, a father’s grief, and society’s responsibilities, played out in the courts and in the conscience of one gutsy man.”

Colby, Summer 2009
“Beyond the macabre crime, the book unfolds on multiple levels, incorporating court reporting on the trials, statehouse reporting on campaigns for the death penalty, and, ultimately, an intimate portrait of Jeffrey’s father, Bob Curley, who fitfully rebuilds his life after the murder…The levels reflect MacQuarrie’s varied experience as a general assignment reporter for the Boston Globe for 20 years, covering more than his share of mayhem. MacQuarrie’s animated, finely tuned prose carries the day.”

Infodad.com, 7/2/09
“Harrowing…Novelistic in its treatment of a nightmarish scenario…As it progresses, The Ride becomes less the story of one family and one murder than a societally oriented look at the death penalty.”

Internet Review of Books, July 2009
“MacQuarrie recounts the days before the murder and the dozen years following it with a journalist’s finely trained eye for detail. Reading of murder is not pleasant, and writing about it can’t have been either, but MacQuarrie accomplishes the task with respect and empathy for the Curley family and its continuing grief…Wrenchingly vivid.”

Providence Journal, 8/2/09
“MacQuarrie has brilliantly enlarged his news reports into a riveting book.”

Augusta Metro Spirit, 8/5/09
“A thrilling mixture of social commentary and true crime… MacQuarrie examines the depths of issues surrounding the death penalty in contemporary American society…Written in a gripping narrative that focuses on a powerful issue and a fascinating personal story full of emotions and intrigue, The Ride will send readers careening.”

Federal Lawyer, August 2009
"MacQuarrie shows with clarity and skill how this unsophisticated, inarticulate firefighter becomes an effective spokesman—first locally, then nationally—for individuals and families dealing with their trauma as the relatives of victims of heinous crimes…If you have an interest in the question of putting people to death, read it.”

Roanoke Times, 9/13
“A gripping account…Despite the time span involved and the magnitude of this story, Pulitzer Prize nominee MacQuarrie's vivid writing captures the intensity of each situation and kept me engrossed from the first page to the last.”

Improper Bostonian, 9/22
“A look at a local murder and a father’s complex reaction…With vivid energy and you-are-there dialogue, author Brian MacQuarrie takes us through Bob’s many transformations.”

Acadiana LifeStyle LA, October 2009
“In this true story, there is an amazing turnaround as Jeffrey’s father reconsiders his view and becomes an opponent of the death penalty. No matter where you now stand on this issue, you may find your position changing.”

Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/29/09
“The most emotionally challenging true-crime account I have ever read…I want this book to win every nonfiction reporting award there is…Bob Curley’s story is profoundly important as the debate over the death penalty continues.”

Concord Monitor NH, 11/16/09
“Superbly reported and told…The Ride flinches from nothing, not the perversion of the crime or the human failings of the victim’s family or the flaws in the justice system. Its strength lies in the story at its center: the hard journey of Bob Curley during the decade after the slaying of his son, Jeffrey. Especially compelling is Curley’s struggle over the death penalty…An honest account of a dramatic and trying ordeal…A remarkable story that unfolds well beyond the usual boundaries of the true-crime genre.”

Midwest Book Review
“An outstanding and dramatic account…Will interest any general lending library.”


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1 edition (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306816261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306816260
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joseph C. Sweeney on June 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A book not to be missed by those interested in American culture. Highly recommended.

For those who have lived in New England since 97, young Jeffrey Curley's murder brings back awful memories. "The Ride" recounts the details of his abduction and killing, but also informs the reader what has happened to the boy's father since. Bob Curley's journey from anger, hatred, and a quest for vengeance to a healthier place is inspired journalism and a tale well worth reading.

Thanks to the Curleys for participating and to writer MacQuarrie for his triumph.
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Format: Hardcover
It takes a talented writer indeed to shake us up about something we read or hear about every day... Well, maybe not EVERY day, but if we read any of the larger newspapers, watch world news on TV, or read online news sources, we know about such things as murder. And since we do read of such horror on a regular basis, we become insensitive to it.

This is why, when a writer of the caliber of MacQuarrie comes along, we are thrust suddenly out of our miasma onto the very scene of a crime that becomes so real for us that we are immediately shocked and outraged. NOW murder becomes personal. Now it raises the pulse. Now it gets our attention. We feel... we breathe in the same pain experienced by those close to the so-called "victim" (a word synonymous with anonymity).

Now we see, not a "victim," but a very real being with whom we can truly identify. And so we become incensed. Yet no matter the intensity of the pain, we cannot put the book down. We cannot simply "go home and feed the cat."

The solution to the intense discomfort we experience as we read THE RIDE is as surprising as the murder itself. Yet we know that it is the only personal solution for the owner of such pain.

What a bittersweet ride! Reading this book is like waking up to a whole new world; a world that is real and not just of our own making. It's brutal. It's like a rude, yet beneficial, awakening from a very long sleep. I highly recommend it!
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Format: Hardcover
Brian MacQuarrie executes a spot-on rendition of the Curley family in the paroxysms of soul-wrenching grief over the loss of a beloved youngest son, brother, grandson. This book is, however, not entirely what I was expecting. Within a handful of pages the Curley family is our family, they are our neighbors; Cambridge is our neighborhood. If there were such a thing to be had as a secret portal into the lives of this wounded family, MacQuarrie has wrangled, subdued and acquired it for us. The sort of intimate, tangled family details which might ordinarily cause us to avert our eyes are woven with such palpable genuineness by such a skilled observer of human behavior that we imagine we can see the emotions flick across the face of Jeffrey's father Bob through his more acute stages of grief and well into as what impels him forward on a mission that he thinks will salve his wounds.

Do we pause there for a breather? We do not. Here is yet another place the book parts company with the ordinary. Fueled by the rage and despair we now own as much as the Curleys and the Cambridge community, we enter the turbulent aftermath for years after Jeffrey's death. We follow Bob's tortured sojourn through deranged fantasies of retribution on into his encounters with high profile players with agendas on both sides of the capital punishment issue. We watch Jeffrey's mother Barbara and his brothers grapple with their grief and their anger at Bob as his bloodlust transmutes into something of a different complexion altogether.

This is not a gentle, soft-focus telling of the story. While it is compassionately, beautifully told, MacQuarrie shows the reader no more mercy than Jeffrey's murderers did Jeffrey as he spares us no details of the event itself.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Living in Massachusetts, I already knew some of the story of Jeffrey's abduction and his father's journey to reinstate the death penalty. I did not know of his personal demons and struggles that followed him throughout the decade after his son's shocking murder. The Curley family shows so much courage opening their lives for the world to read in this book. The author, Brian MacQuarrie, handles the family's journey very gently, yet tells the story in such a compelling manner. This is a heartbreaking story to read, but very eye-opening regarding the politics in Massachusetts and what must be done to help protect our children. I would have never expected Mr. Curley's life to be intertwined with that of the father of a victim of the Oklahoma City bombing, or with the Unabomber's brother. The story is very well written. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is truly a story that needed to be told and it is done so by an outstanding writer (MacQuarrie). He challenges us to feel what the subject (Bob Curley)is feeling throughout the entire read. I didn't want to put the book down. I wanted to keep on reading. I wanted to know what was going to happen in Bob's world next. As familiar as I felt I was with the original "story", I was blown away by the version I know now, because of this book.

During the reading, I was so conflicted with my own emotions about this man (Bob Curley) and the whole situation he finds himself in, after the traumatic events that took the life of his youngest child. The anger, the loss, the torment, the feelings of confusion, the trust of the politicians, the limelight he is thrust into, but then the basic compassion, the nonverbal outcry for assistance, and his attempt to find resolve within himself and the world around him.

I won't spoil the outcome, but it would be an honor to know such a man, in person. God bless you and your family Mr. Curley. Thank you and Mr. MacQuarrie for giving us the opportunity to read your ordeal.

If you read anything this year, read this book.
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