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79 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Expose of a Moral Panic that Ruined Lives
This book was a real eye opener for me. It documents the trumped up charges against daycare workers,"sex rings" of parents and grandparents -- accused of the most elaborate and unlikely--even impossible-- crimes against children. None of the charges came spontaneously from children, who in fact insisted nothing had happened. Rather, children were subjected...
Published on October 1, 1999 by Katha Pollitt

versus
5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars And the evidence is?
Since this book is dedicated to so many allegedly falsely accused individuals, then it would be helpful if the authors had explained why this is so. All these individuals had alibis? The DNA evidence indicated someone else? Someone else confessed? We shouldn't believe children who say they were molested?
Published 8 months ago by Lynn Crook


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79 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Expose of a Moral Panic that Ruined Lives, October 1, 1999
This book was a real eye opener for me. It documents the trumped up charges against daycare workers,"sex rings" of parents and grandparents -- accused of the most elaborate and unlikely--even impossible-- crimes against children. None of the charges came spontaneously from children, who in fact insisted nothing had happened. Rather, children were subjected to highly coercive and manipulative interviews by true-believer therapists, repeated over weeks and weeks. the therapists fed the kids the stories they wanted to hear -- and eventually got what they wanted. What was presented as physical evidence of abuse --microscopic bumps and skin tags on genitals --have turned out to be as common in nonabused kids and abused ones. Over a hundred people went to jail, and around a dozen are still there --even though the justice system has tacitly admitted the flaws in the original prosecutions. After all, no one has brought a daycare ritual-abuse case in a decade. What I particularly like about this book is that--unlike some of the other books debunking ritual abuse, repressed memory and the like-- it's written from a feminist perspective. Nathan argues that what women and children need to be safe from abuse is more equality within the family, and more equality for women socially and economically. For her the tragic turn in feminism was the turn toward psychologizing incest and sex abuse and presenting therapy as the remedy, instead of social change. This perspective sets her apart from the dominant strain in the movement against intrusive child advocacy, the "parents' rights" movement, which tends to see children as family propoerty with no rights of their own, and tends to be extremely conservative politically. A wonderful book.
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31 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On Reviews of Skeptical Books, March 24, 2004
By A Customer
Skeptical books? I mean books like this one that question our culture's holiest beliefs - in the continuing and ever-worsening oppression of victimized classes, the coming environmental doom etc. Most of the reviews tend to be positive; after all, interested persons have purchased the book or are shopping for the book. Their point of view is already formed. Then there are the other reviews - usually giving no stars, usually short and scabrous: "This book is part of a conspiracy to trivialize a very real problem. This book has been discredited. It has shoddy research etc." "Discredited" is a great word - applied not to shoddy research but to research that challenges our sacred beliefs.

To get more specific, negative reviewers of this book and its many cousins miss the point. Nathan and her co-authors are not excusing abuse or dismissing it as a possible occurrence. Nor are they denying that memories can be repressed. They are simply arguing two points:
1. People are innocent until proven guilty. (Right?)
and
2. Memories recovered through hypnosis or by other means are not strong enough evidence to convict an accused "perp." As evidence, they are simply unreliable.

Lots of libertarians are on the internet and obviously are disposed to like books of this kind. Then there are others... the true believers, steeped in ideology and unconcerned about the facts in any specific case. Their only concern is with broader principles - "victims must be protected!"; "abuse is a terrible, growing problem!" These principles are fine, but they should not be brought to bear upon the process of determining guilt or innocence. This process should retain its clear focus on evidence and facts. That is the essence of Nathan's argument, as well as those of Ofshe, Terence Campbell, Willard Gaylin and Dorothy Rabinowitz.
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31 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must reading for child abuse investigators!, March 30, 2000
By 
Frank Smith (Bluff City, KS USA) - See all my reviews
Co-author Snedeker has been a psychologist, a writer and an appellant's attorney since the mid-70s, so is remarkably well qualified to write on the subject. The book's dissection of the nonsense that prevailed in mid-80s "satanic, ritualistic, child abuse" witch hunts should be required reading for persons in the child protection field. Were it so, the fevered investigators' imaginations which created these travesties might have been cooled, and innocent people spared from allegations of perpetration.
I am retired from that field, so am terribly familiar with the pervasive incompetence it harbors.
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23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Persecutors, July 18, 2004
By 
Joe Ballard (Andover, MA USA) - See all my reviews
In the Margaret Kelly Michaels case, if you read the judicial evaluations carefully you can see clearly who the real perpetrators are: not Kelly at all, but the teams of prosecutors and "experts" who coerced the children into telling them exactly what they wanted to hear to whip up public hysteria. By the time the Superior and Supreme Court justices caught up with these misguided prosecuting "adults", Kelly's life as an actress and writer had been ruined, five years of her life had vanished into unjust imprisonment, and the lives of her students had been damaged for a very long time by those "adults" who forced them to dance to a prejudiced prosecution tune having nothing to do with the facts. These are the real tragedies, and they are far from over.
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19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I have seen the panic and the damage done, January 12, 2008
By 
Jeffrey Ellis "bored recluse" (Richardson, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt (Paperback)
If you grew up in the '80s, you probably remember that, for a while, stories about evil Satanists were all the rage. At times, it seemed like every crime committed in America between 1984 and 1990 was somehow linked to Satanism. Of course, as time went on and Americans found other unseen threats to fear, it became rather obvious that the majority of these crimes were not part of any larger conspiracy and that what was once considered to be "evidence" of a Satanic conspiracy was really just a combination of panic and people choosing to see only what they wanted to see. Eventually, the whole Satanic panic of the '80s faded into the background and even became something of a shared joke between those of us who lived through it. Unfortunately, it's often forgotten that -- at the panic's peak -- a countless number of innocent people were accused and often convicted of Satanic crimes on the flimsiest of evidence. While many of these people saw their convictions later overturned, many more remained (and remain) in jail. Even as the rest of us forget about just how serious the Satanic Panic of the '80s actually was, those victimized by it continue to suffer even today.

That is why Satan's Silence is an important book. Starting with the infamous McMartin Preschool case, this book shows how that case, with its ultimately unproven accusations of Satanic Ritual Abuse, eventually created a moral panic that engulfed the entire country.

The book makes a powerful case that the Satanic Panic was the product of a dangerous combination of urban legend and well-meaning but untrained social workers who were so determined to prove allegations of abuse that they blatantly manipulated the same "victims" that they believed themselves to be protecting. Indeed, what makes the book so disturbing is that the Satanic Panic was obviously the product of a noble goal. However, in their zeal to "protect children," far too many supporters of the Satanic Ritual Abuse theory allowed themselves to get caught up in the fervor of the times. As a result, a lot of innocent people were unjustly convicted in the court of public opinion if nowhere else. (It is probably safe to assume that, while everyone was out looking for nonexistent evidence of Satanism, a lot of actual child abusers went undetected.)

Along with examining a few prominent cases of Satanic Panic, the book also spends a good deal of time examining the manipulative and, at times, unethical methods used to "prove" that Satanic Ritual Abuse was a "reality." It makes for disturbing reading.

At the same time, the book does, at times, get a bit too one-sided in its arguments. Its obvious that the authors don't have a lot of respect for those on the other side of the debate and, occasionally, that comes through a bit too harshly. Even I, who was a skeptical about Satanic Ritual Abuse even before reading this book, occasionally found myself wishing that those who do believe in SRA had been given more of a chance to defend themselves. As a result, the book will probably not change any minds on the other side of the debate.

Satan's Silence is not quite the final statement on the Satanic Panic of the '80s but it is an important part of the debate. Even more importantly, it serves as a sobering reminder (and warning) of the damage that can be done by mixing good intentions with blind panic.
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21 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Reading for Anyone Who Cares About Justice, May 21, 2001
By 
Robert B. Chatelle (Boston, MA United States) - See all my reviews
Satan's Silence is simply the best book yet written about the ongoing epidemic of false accusations of child sexual abuse that began in America with the daycare panics -- McMartin, Fells Acres, Little Rascals, etc. -- that swept this country in the 80s. Satan's Silence examines several key cases in detail, explaining what happened and why. It is carefully researched, well reasoned, intelligent and compassionate.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complimentary Force to Combat Misinformation / Satanic Panic, December 13, 2012
This review is from: Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt (Paperback)
Thank you for this informative book. Just when you think the old hysteria "satanic panic" has been disproved and will be discarded, along come more "true stories" full of more misinformation and false propaganda. Your efforts are commendable. I hope your exposes regarding these topics will be used collectively to stop the victimization of the (scared and most vulnerable) mentally ill. (Not to mention the huge population of the falsely accused.)
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17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A scary expose of justice gone awry!, September 2, 1998
By 
C. I. McCabe (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is must reading for anyone concerned with justice in America. This book details cases of child abuse accusations that put people behind bars for outlandish crimes that could never have been committed, crimes that were so fantastical and so unreal as to be utterly unbelievable. This is not a one-sided account, but a true and courageous investigative expose of the child-abuse and satanic ritual cases like the McMartin Pre-school case that were nothing but a house of cards that came crashing down when the facts were examined with a critical eye. Read it and you will wonder in amazement and disbelief how prosecutors and judges -- elected public officials -- could have allowed these cases to happen and why some of the accused are still behind bars despite their innocence and the fact that the crimes never could have occurred.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Will Destroy Your Faith in Human Rationality - Which is a Good Thing, May 11, 2012
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This review is from: Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt (Paperback)
I was still in college when the daycare abuse panic was happening, and thought at the time that it was nuts - but I was very busy and had a million things occupying my time and my mind. I bought this book for an overview of how the panic developed - what actually happened and why.

This book really exceeded my expectations. The authors have a deep understanding and knowledge of the people and institutions which fostered the panic. You get plenty of details on some of the more notorious cases, including the McMartin case, but after reading the book, you'll also have a good sense of how incompetence, stupidity, irrationality, and good intentions converged to produce such a shameful episode.

This is also a deeply frightening book. Not because there was any reality to the many charges of ritual abuse, but because there wasn't. Perfectly ordinary people going about their lives were suddenly plunged into hellish ordeals based on the charges of people who were misinformed, delusional, and in some cases mentally ill. And the criminal justice system not only failed to respond appropriately, but responded by becoming efficient and effective at turning false charges into convictions. You will emerge from reading this book with your faith in human rationality deeply shaken - as it should be. Rationality is a very thin veneer.

Absolutely top-flight book. Well written, well organized, and extensively documented.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis of our greatest witch hunt, July 12, 2014
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This review is from: Satan's Silence (Kindle Edition)
Prof. Gladden Schrock of Bennington College has called the child sex abuse witch hunt the third and largest in our history. The author does a thorough detailing specific cases of injustice and gives the larger overview and social context. Tragically, Ms Nathan's prescriptions to right the many wrongs have not been implemented.

This book is still relevant today and continued to need wider dissemination.
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Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt
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