Book: Missoula: Rape And Injustice In A College Town by Jon Krakauer
Published April 2015 by Doubleday|349 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library
Genre: Adult Non-Fiction
Missoula, Montana is a typical college town, home to a highly regarded state university whose beloved football team inspires a passionately loyal fan base. Between January 2008 and May 2012, hundreds of students reported sexual assaults to the local police. Few of the cases were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.
In these pages, acclaimed journalist Jon Krakauer investigates a spate of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula over a four-year period. Taking the town as a case study for a crime that is sadly prevalent throughout the nation, Krakauer documents the experiences of five victims: their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the skepticism directed at them by police, prosecutors, and the public; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. These stories cut through abstract ideological debate about acquaintance rape to demonstrate that it does not happen because women are sending mixed signals or seeking attention. They are victims of a terrible crime, deserving of fairness from our justice system. Rigorously researched, rendered in incisive prose, Missoula stands as an essential call to action.
Missoula was a book I heard about last year, and finally picked up this year. It’s also a book that I’ve put off reviewing, because how do you talk about a book like Missoula?
I got so angry when reading it, and for me, the first 100 pages or so, were really hard to read. How people listen to it on audio, I don’t know, because I had a hard enough time reading it, much less listening to it. Still, the graphic descriptions of rape are almost clinical, but it is something to keep in mind if you pick up this book.
I thought the first half of the book was a lot stronger than the second half, just because the second half of the book is a lot of court transcripts, and those, I ended up skimming over. And I can’t say that I was surprised by how the victims were treated, and that the district attorney’s office decided not to go forward with prosecuting many cases, even when they had reason to, because I wasn’t. And Kirten Pabst, one of the District Attorneys…her actions were completely horrible, and I was completely horrified by her actions, and that she would go on to be elected District Attorney.
Missoula is an important book, though, and one everyone should read. There are a lot of small details in the book, and I felt like Krakauer put a lot of work and research into the book. If you know anything at all about how rape is handled in the U.S., this book might not reveal anything new, but the stories surrounding the women in this book were very moving, and if it opens someone’s eyes and sparks even a few conversations, then I think it’s worth it.
4 stars. It was moving and hard to read, but the court transcripts were a little dry and ended up being something I skimmed. Still, I think it’s a book everyone needs to read, because it deals with a crime that is under reported, and where victims are blamed for what they went through.