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The Boys of the Dark: A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in the Deep South Hardcover – August 17, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312595395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312595395
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though the abuse OÖMcCarthy and Straley suffered as teenagers in the late 1950s and early Ö60s at the Florida School for Boys, a reform school, was horrific, journalist FisherÖs (After the Fire) maudlin tone dilutes their inspirational story. Both OÖMcCarthy and Straley were subjected to brutal beatings in a building known as the White House and heard rumors of other boys who were whipped and never seen again. The 2006 death of a 14-year-old boy in a Florida youth boot camp forced Straley to confront emotions and memories heÖd bottled up for decades. He contacted OÖMcCarthy, now a journalist whoÖd made a documentary on the 1923 Rosewood massacre, and the two men tracked down other survivors of the Florida School for Boys, enlisting the help of former Florida legislator and childrenÖs crusader Gus Barreiro. Fisher is strongest at detailing FloridaÖs lackluster history of treating youthful offenders but when conveying the emotional and often troubled lives of OÖMcCarthy and Straley in and after reform school, she adopts the tone of a cheesy after-school TV special.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Locked up in the Florida School for Boys in Marianna in the 1950s, Fisher, then 13, suffered unspeakable abuse, including whippings and rape. Coauthor Michael O’McCarthy was 15 when he was sentenced to a year in Marianna: what haunts him is not only the agonizing beatings but also the guilt that he did nothing to save a friend of his who disappeared. Now after more than 50 years of trying to forget, the two survivors have come together through the Internet in a class-action suit with more than 500 former inmates (most convicted for minor offenses) to confront their excruciating memories and call the perpetrators to account. The big issues are always inextricably tied to the personal trauma: How could the guards, ordinary people, inflict such suffering? How could the local community and justice department go along? Yes, the Nazi banality of evil is invoked. But more than abstraction, the searing detail is unforgettable. And the unanswered questions: What about the school cemetery with 32 unmarked graves? Could it still be happening to incarcerated children? With the court hearing pending, this searing exposé will have a wide audience. --Hazel Rochman

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This was a well written book.
Lynn R. Jackson
It remains to be seen whether the Florida juvenile justice system and state leaders will show the same courage as this painful chapter continues to unfold.
Dienne
They were brave in sharing their stories.
Tonya R.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dienne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
First I have to say that Amazon chose some pretty poor reviews to use for their Editorial Reviews. The Booklist review contains a blatant factual error right in the first sentence. Robin Gaby Fisher, being female, was never sentenced to the Florida School for Boys. Co-writer Robert Straley, however, was. And Publishers Weekly derides the "maudlin tone", which leads me to wonder if they even read the book. The book can be described as brutal, macabre, heartrending or any number of other adjectives, but "maudlin"? "Cheesy after school special"? Only if you have a heart of stone. So read the customer reviews (not just mine) and ignore the Amazon reviews.

But anyway, on to my own review.

I've read many books on holocausts and genocides, and this book rang some familiar notes. Sure, there are significant differences. Most notably, the State of Florida wasn't trying to systematically eliminate all people of a certain racial, ethnic or religious background. But the patterns and the characters involved are all familiar. There's the ringleaders - the evil men who coordinate the atrocity. There's the guards and administrators who not only know what's going on, but who participate with gusto. There's the guards and administrators who know what's going on and participate or turn a blind eye because they "were only following orders" and because they have families to feed. There's the townspeople who know but don't see what's going on. Some in the latter two categories even make small gestures to help. And then there's the terrified victims, yanked from their former lives, stripped of all rights, wondering how they ended up in this nightmare, how they will escape it, and if they even will.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Kiser Sr. on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I met Robert and Michael some years back and we formed a group called "The White House Boys."

Shortly after, I released the book "The White House Boys" which exposed the beating, rape and killing of many boys by the Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna. The treatment of boys, some as young as eight, was disgraceful, bloody and despicable. For more than 100 years the citizens of Marianna (Jackson County) remained silent and some were allowed to filter off millions dollars worth of meat, produce and farm equipment from the school.

There are four or five books written about this tragedy and each one has a different story to tell. The abuses were so outrageous and numerous that no one individual (in one book) could possible write about (or know) about all the tragic conduct by the employees of that facility. Robert and Michael's book is a great read and is told in a caring manner, as best as could possibly be done when dealing with such tragic and bloody circumstances.

When bets can be placed by employees on which employee can draw blood on the first blow of the heavy metal and leather strap, and possibly kill a child with one swing; the system has certainly gone array.

Michael died last year and it is a shame that any AMERICAN citizen would have to die with such stored memories. Memories of a country which is supposed to be the most kind and decent country in the world yet for more than 100 years abused, raped, beat, molested and killed innocent children. What a shame the state of Florida will have to carry on it's back for generations to come.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read....it is a must read for anyone who works with children/youth..... but in reality, it really should be read by EVERYONE in America....We don't think things like this happen in the U.S. but it does....

I would REALLY, REALLY like to see a movie made about this book.......
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dillon/Horton on September 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Set aside some time when you start Robin Gaby Fisher's latest book. You won't want to put it down until you are finished. The story is a sad and horrific one, but the efforts by a few brave people to make it known are inspiring and Fisher has captured all of those sides of the story. It is an important story to be told and Fisher has told it well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cathy on August 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Marvelously written! Flows between past and current without a hitch. The author has uniquely captured the emotional trauma of the abuse victims, as well as the precise personality of other key players. While reading this book, I can feel the evil of the abusers as well as the victims' despair. And you learn that despair lasts a lifetime for the victims. And that the evil abusers were relentlessly protected by their government and community. And you surmise that the evil abusers will go to their grave with their wicked souls.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By buddy-whb-marti on October 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Boys of the Dark: A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in the Deep South is truly a heartbreaking story of young boys being physically and sexually abused by government employees that were supposed to take care of them, but also of the betrayal of governors,government officials, both Florida State and United States, that knew of the abuse for decades, and failed to correct it and turned their back on the boys. Most of the boys were sent to the reform school for minor infractions, skipping school (I was one of those boys) petty offences, running away from home, or simply were not wanted at home or didn't have one. Florida School for Boys/Marianna took in these young boys, some as young as age 8, and like an assembly line factory, abused them, filling them with rage and hate, to never again trust anyone their entire life, and turned out many as criminals trying to strike back at a society that allowed such abuse. But there are some heroes in this book, who exposed the ugly truth. This is a MUST READ for everyone, especially for anyone thinking of going into child protection work, corrections,government or political careers. I read the book in one session...just could not put it down.
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