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Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case [Hardcover]

by Stuart Taylor, KC Johnson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 4, 2007 0312369123 978-0312369125 1st
What began that night shocked Duke University and Durham, North Carolina.
      And it continues to captivate the nation:  the Duke lacrosse team members' alleged rape of an African-American stripper and the unraveling of the case against them.
      In this ever-deepening American tragedy, Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson argue, law enforcement, a campaigning prosecutor, biased journalists, and left-leaning academics repeatedly refused to pursue the truth while scapegoats were made of these young men, recklessly tarnishing their lives.
      The story harbors multiple dramas, including the actions of a DA running for office; the inappropriate charges that should have been apparent to academics at Duke many months ago; the local and national media, who were so slow to take account of the publicly available evidence; and the appalling reactions of law enforcement, academia, and many black leaders.
      Until Proven Innocent is the only book that covers all five aspects of the case (personal, legal, academic, political, and media) in a comprehensive fashion. Based on interviews with key members of the defense team, many of the unindicted lacrosse players, and Duke officials, it is also the only book to include interviews with all three of the defendants, their families, and their legal teams.
            Taylor and Johnson's coverage of the Duke case was the earliest, most honest, and most comprehensive in the country, and here they take the idiocies and dishonesty of right- and left-wingers alike head on, shedding new light on the dangers of rogue prosecutors and police and a cultural tendency toward media-fueled travesties of justice. The context of the Duke case has vast import and contains likable heroes, unfortunate victims, and memorable villains--and in its full telling, it is captivating nonfiction with broad political, racial, and cultural relevance to our times.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Guilty until proven innocent was a concept expressed by Duke University's president Richard Brodhead, among others, betraying a stunning misapprehension of America's justice system in the case of the Duke lacrosse players wrongfully indicted for raping a black stripper in 2006. As well reported in detail by respected legal journalist Taylor and Brooklyn College historian Johnson, the facts of the case speak for themselves: rogue prosecutor Mike Nifong willfully disregarded evidence of the boys' innocence; Duke administrators hung the team members out to dry; much of Duke's faculty and the media rushed to assume guilt in the racially charged case (the New York Times comes in for special opprobrium). But these facts are embedded in repetitiously hammering home the basic points, sarcasm and ranting against the political correctness (i.e., obsession with the race-class-gender triad) of academia and the media. The authors challenge the academic credentials of the black faculty members who attacked the team and criticize the Times's Selena Roberts for choosing to live in lily white Westport, Conn. In total contrast, the closing chapters offer balanced, tautly argued discussions of, and remedies for, the central problems: prosecutorial abuse, the frequency of false rape accusations and academic groupthink. 8 pages of color photos. (Oct. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Praise for Until Proven Innocent

Written by Stuart Taylor Jr. and K.C. Johnson, Until Proven Innocent is the most compelling true crime book of the year. Its immersion into the case and access to the major players makes the reader feel like an insider. The book is crammed full of salacious details, scientific details, background details, etc., but it never feels overwhelming. After reading the book, though, you will feel disgusted, if not outraged. -Amanda Barrett, The Chicago Sun-Times

In their vivid, at times chilling account, the authors are contemptuous of prosecutor Mike Nifong, whom the North Carolina legal establishment disbarred for his by now well-documented misconduct. But their most biting scorn is aimed at the "academic McCarthyism" that they say has infected top-rated American universities like Duke. -Evan Thomas, Newsweek

A superb new book… a book that not only reads like a legal thriller, but also exposes deep problems with America's legal system and academic culture. -The Economist

From the Scottsboro Boys to Clarence Gideon, some of the most memorable legal narratives have been tales of the wrongly accused. Now Until Proven Innocent, a new book about the false allegations of rape against three Duke lacrosse players, can join these galvanizing cautionary tales. Taylor and Johnson have made a gripping contribution to the literature of the wrongly accused. They remind us of the importance of constitutional checks on prosecutorial abuse. And they emphasize the lesson that Duke callously advised its own students to ignore: if you're unjustly suspected of any crime, immediately call the best lawyer you can afford. -Jeffrey Rosen, The New York Times Book Review

“Brutally honest, unflinching, exhaustively researched, and compulsively readable, Until Proven Innocent excoriates those who led the stampede—the prosecutor, the cops, the media—but it also exposes the cowardice of Duke’s administration and faculty. Until Proven Innocent smothers any lingering doubts that in this country the presumption of innocence is dead, dead, dead.”
—John Grisham
“This compelling narrative dramatizes the fearsome power of unscrupulous police and prosecutors to wreck the lives of innocent people, especially when the media and many in the community rush to presume guilt. The inspiring story of how the defense lawyers turned the tables on a dishonest DA points to the crying need for reforms to give defendants of modest means a fighting chance when law enforcement goes bad.”
—Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor of law at the New York Law School
“In what surely is this year’s most revealing, scalding and disturbing book on America’s civic culture, the authors demonstrate that the Duke case was symptomatic of the dangerous decay of important institutions—legal, academic, and journalistic. . . . With this meticulous report, the guilty have at last been indicted and convicted.”
—George F. Will  
“A gripping, meticulous, blow-by-blow account of the whole grotesque affair. It is beautifully written, dramatic, and full of insights, exposing how vulnerable the prosecutorial system is to abuse and how ready the liberal media and PC academics are to serve as leaders of the lynch mob. A must read for anyone who cares about individual rights and justice.”
—William P. Barr, former attorney general of the United States
“A chilling, gripping account of how our judicial system can go terribly wrong. This is an important book that brings the Duke story to life and exposes troubling facts about our justice system and our citadels of higher learning. You may think you know the Duke story—but you don’t until you read this book.”
—Jan Crawford Greenberg, ABC News legal correspondent and author of Supreme Conflict
“The analysis of the notorious Duke rape case in this book is hard to accept. According to Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, this episode was not just a terrible injustice to three young men. It exposed a fever of political correctness that is more virulent than ever on American campuses and throughout society. . . . Unfortunately for doubts, the authors lay out the facts with scrupulous care. This is a thorough and absorbing history of a shameful episode. ”—Michael Kinsley, columnist for Time magazine

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312369123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312369125
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
131 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The must have book for those interested in the Duke case September 5, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is truly the definitive book for those looking to get the entire story of the despicable Duke rape hoax. Perhaps even more scary than the book's depiction of disgraced DA Nifong, are the sections on the Duke professors and officials who were so willing to destroy (i.e. send to prison for 30 years) 3 innocent boys in the name of political correctness. It makes you wonder if these people have a conscience and how they are in charge of teaching young people. The authors present very granular evidence of the incomptence of Duke President Brodhead, who comes across as a coward, and also the group of 88 "professors" who still teach at the school. These folks, plus the DA and police have made the name "Duke" soiled. This book makes sure that they will be remembered for the cruel fools they are for eternity.
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130 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a pleasant read from a nasty affair. September 5, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've been captivated by the Duke Lacrosse Scandal since the indictments were first handed down. I found KC's blog in August and looked forward to reading his insightful, intelligent, and down-to-earth posts every day. I hoped his book would be just as organized and fun to read as his blog, and I must say it hasn't let me down.

It arrived yesterday and I muted everything to curl up with it after school. It went very fast and had noticeable bits of KC's dry humor. It appropriately skewers the right villains: the Gang of 88(+23) - there's no shortage of fodder here, revealed to be pseudo-intellects (and scared punks unwilling to defend their words in unstaged public forums); Duke administration - specifically Broadhead; the media - the NYT and Nancy Grace; and Nifong. It does not skewer the NC politicians who sat back and did nothing as much as I think they deserve.

My *only* issue with the book, as well as in his blog, is the Steve Monks affair. The book has speculated, without any evidence, and none brought to light in the book, that Monks had some ulterior motive for running, other than being a deluded person. I really can't reach that conclusion based on the scant mentionings that KC and Stuart have alluded to. Other than that, I feel that the other speculated motivations put forth in the book are fair (i.e. the motivation of the G88) considering the context.

I think it's fitting that this book was released a few days after Nifong was sentenced to his symbolic stint in jail. The real bottom line of the book is that affects of Nifong's actions reach far beyond the court. Nifong's narcissism exposed the pervasive bias in media, on college campuses, and among our most influential and the unchecked power prosecutors have.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Justifible outrage leaps from every page September 18, 2007
This is a story of 21st Century America. A woman claims she was raped and sodomized by three young men. The men are all young, white and members of the Duke University lacrosse team, a sport presumed by many to be played only by the rich. Their accuser is black, the unmarried mother of two children, a stripper and perhaps a prostitute as well.

Within days, a large swath of the left-leaning mainstream media, left-wing Duke faculty and an aggressive white District Attorney seeking the votes of a largely black population are declaring the guilt of the three Duke lacrosse players. Justice be damned; this to them is an issue of class, race and gender.

KC Johnson is a history professor at Brooklyn College and CUNY. Thousands of people, including myself, became familiar with him through his blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, which chronicled the events in this outrageous travesty of twisted law enforcement, political correctness, biased reportage and racial politics.

Stuart Taylor, Jr. is a columnist for the National Journal and a contributing editor for Newsweek.

Outrage is present on every page in measured tones as the authors outline the depradations of Mike Nifong, the man who willingly incited Durham's black population in a quest for their votes by referring to the victim's allegations as true, by calling the Duke lacrosse players "privileged white boys", by asking why would the targets of a rampaging DA hire lawyers if they had done nothing wrong, publicizing untrue details of a non-existent crime and worse.

But Nifong, who was ultimately disbarred for his prejudicial comments and his subsequent withholding of exculpatory evidence is only part of the story.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Brodhead's Moral Meltdown September 15, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT: POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND THE SHAMEFUL INJUSTICES OF THE DUKE LACROSSE RAPE CASE. UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT is more terrifying than any thriller you will read this year. Stuart Taylor, Jr., and KC Johnson trace what happened when three young men were falsely accused of rape. Rather than being defended by Duke University, they were defamed, threatened with castration, thrown to the rogue prosecutor. Many Duke professors as the "Group of 88" egged on the mob who had begun to harass the lacrosse players. There were almost no heroes at Duke, although a very few professors ultimately spoke out against the rush to judgment which proved to be a rush to the wrong judgment. The women's lacrosse coach Kerstin Kimel is depicted here as the kind of person you wish you had been when you look back at a crisis you lived through. Her decency and bravery shine in this dark book. KC Johnson is another kind of hero: the American professor who sensed that something wrong was going on at Duke and set out to document the events in a blog that ultimately helped turn the tide against the Duke mob. One of the most terrifying sections of this book shows that rather than being punished after the truth was undeniable these professors in the Group of 88 were rewarded with greater control of Duke committees. One of the most exciting sections shows how bloggers became heroes when the national media, including Nancy Grace and the New York Times, had joined the mob. This section gives hope that other national lies will be exposed promptly and exposed repeatedly until the country pays attention. The times have changed for the better in this regard even if the Times has not. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This book clearly shows can happen with zealous, dishonest prosecutors. Had these young men not had big money to defend themselves, they would be in prison.
Published 3 months ago by M. Swanson
4.0 out of 5 stars An Education in Why You Should Avoid Sending Your Child to Duke...
This book exposes the corruption, prejudice and the ultimate power of money in our Criminal Justice System. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Richard M. Aztlan
3.0 out of 5 stars Important story well researched and reported, but with a clear and...
This was a shocking travesty of justice which people should know about. However the author(s) apparently want to use this as case to attack all liberal education in general and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Intrepid
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading
This is a researched and footnoted work. It should be required reading for anyone who doubts that most higher institutions of higher learning are saturated with political... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Theodore Thom
4.0 out of 5 stars A perfect storm only Murphy would be proud of
This book chronicled the inept, chicken-little, ill advised, hasty, incautious, judgmental, cruel, punitive, and destructive acts of President Broadhead and the Board of Trustees. Read more
Published 7 months ago by John L. Hash
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as fiction
It reads like a novel, the author leaves no stone unturned, confirms my thinking about the court system and the left leaning colleges and university's.
Published 8 months ago by Angelo Calamusa
5.0 out of 5 stars Until Proven Innocent
This was a very intriguing book and well researched. I had read about this case but was shocked by all the twist and turns and the injustice that can be done by people in our court... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Faith
4.0 out of 5 stars Injustice corrected with damage to all
Unbelievable book. True story well written. Read it slowly as you may miss some of the details. It may upset some readers when the facts become known. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Dotty Butler
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Analysis
The book is written in dispassionate style by experienced journalists who have examined the event thoroughly and have presented the facts step by step. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mark E. Mazo
5.0 out of 5 stars comment on until proven innocent
It is very well researched and written
It reads like a novel
It makes one worry about our local justice systems
Published 12 months ago by Harold Mauney
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Topic From this Discussion
Don't Go to Duke
This should mark the end of any legitimacy to Duke's prior reputation as an outstanding university. Only a resignation by the Duke President would offer any hope for Duke's future.
Sep 21, 2007 by S. J. Hefter |  See all 13 posts
Think I'm going to try reading the second half of the book
The source notes (which are voluminous) are available on-line:
Sep 5, 2007 by sceptical |  See all 4 posts
Is "political correctness" really the problem?
Your first paragraph has great merit. Unfortunately, you hurt your credibility when you veer off course to disparage three innocent young men, whom you refer to as "poor put-upon golden boys." If these victims were young women who had been raped, you would be widely and properly... Read more
Feb 27, 2008 by Timothy Murray |  See all 27 posts
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