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The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse & Betrayal Hardcover – August 1, 2009
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It's not just that you'll want to stay home from work to keep reading The Franklin Scandal -- although you will want that,as Bryant's book is the mother of all compelling page-turners. Rather, it's that this book will move you, and horrify you, and shock and anger and frighten YOU, PERSONALLY, so that you will actually want to do something about the corruption that he exposes so skillfully. By simply taking the time to read this excellent, fascinating book you will have already done something that matters: You'll have actually learned something important -- something that'll stay with you for the rest of your life. Presumably you'll want to mention this engrossing and informative (and shocking) book to the folks around you, which is one of the important ways that social change happens.
I came to this story already knowing better than most that groups of adults can, and sometimes do, work in concert to perpetrate horrible crimes against children and other vulnerable members of society, and that seemingly "normal, repectable" people can absolutely be involved in this ----sometimes with a full knowledge of what they're participating in, but often because they are being duped and manipulated into doing evil "for the sake of national security" or "the greater good of the community". I also knew, of course, that corruption exists in police forces, and in politics, etc. Yet I persisted in believing that the bad guys could only get so far, because after all, there was the FBI to deal with, and the courts. And if they should fail there was always the free press, I thought. But Nick Bryant shows very clearly that these pleasing ideas are incredibly mistaken --- at least when we're talking about the secrets of the rich and powerful.
This is investigative reporting at its finest. Bryant is extremely meticulous, thorough, and very, very fair. He provides enough quotes and context to enable real understanding, but he doesn't waste space or bludgeon points that have already been made. He offers his own thoughts at times, but always acknowledges his own biases ---more honestly and more humbly than any other writer I know. He also writes very beautifully, and with great humanity.
There are a number of excellent reviews here of The Franklin Scandal, and I really cannot improve on them. I will just say that learning from Bryant about Gary Caradori and Alisha Owen was a blessing, and for that alone I would have paid the full price of the hardcover. Heroes really do make life a lot easier to bear for the rest of us. And although Bryant would not suggest this himself it is certainly true that he is the third great hero in this story . The reality is that he still suffers greatly for having dared to write The Franklin Scandal, to the point where a fellow writer and friend put out a piece describing the hardship that has befallen Bryant as a result of his willingness to speak out on behalf of the victims of Franklin --- and by extension on my behalf and on yours,as well. I understand funding is needed for a documentary in the making, and I'll be supporting that effort. I hope you'll do the same.
There have been other books written about the scandal that came out in Omaha in the 1980s, and they have ranged from bad to incredibly bad. They should never, ever be mentioned in the same breath with Bryant's work. I recommend that you skip the other books on Omaha altogether. Read The Franklin Scandal, by Nick Bryant. And if you think you would rather skip it because it sounds like a bummer? Read it anyway, because that's the right thing to do. The good news is that you won't want to put the book down.
Personally, I think every adult American should read this book. Americans have been conditioned to think they are different - that this kind of thing only happens in other places. Americans have been conditioned to trust the word of officials in government and law enforcement without corroborating evidence, or even when these same officials refuse to let Americans see the evidence. They want you to trust but not verify. This book is one of those pieces of work that shows why such trust is misplaced.
The author is very thorough in his coverage of the Franklin matter, but I did not find the book to be tedious. The length of the book is necessary to include the detail required to sort out the truth - to address the credibility of the people and institutions involved. In my opinion, the author's writing style is reader-friendly and the material is very accessible to the average reader. My only criticism of the book would be the lack of footnotes that would directly source statements in the text. Having said that, I think the author and/or publisher made the right decision to leave them out of the chapter texts and list the source documentation at the end of the book instead. Including footnotes would have added tremendously to what was already a daunting effort by the author, and it would have severely increased the length of the book and made it tedious for some readers. Furthermore, the source documentation is often mentioned in the text anyway. I like to have footnotes even if it adds considerably to the length of the book, but I can't assume other readers would feel the same. In any case, it is clear the author has done an exhaustive review of the available evidence and interviewed as many of the actual witnesses/participants as possible. Make no mistake, this book is based on evidence that can be confirmed. When the author speculates, he let's the reader know.
I recommend this book without reservation, it is an extraordinary work. I urge you in the strongest terms possible to read it at your earliest convenience. It is the responsibility of people in a "free" society to be informed.
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