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Thursday, 12 December 2013

Review #187: Denial- Jessica Stern

"I have listened and I have been quiet all my life. But now I will speak."

One of the world's foremost experts on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder investigates her own unsolved adolescent sexual assault at the hands of a serial rapist, and in so doing, examines the horrors of trauma and denial.
Alone in an unlocked house in a safe neighborhood in the suburban town of Concord, Massachusetts, two good, obedient girls, Jessica Stern, fifteen, and her sister, fourteen, were raped on the night of October 1, 1973. The girls had just come back from ballet lessons and were doing their homework when a strange man armed with a gun entered their home. Afterward, when they reported the crime, the police were skeptical.

The rapist was never caught. For over thirty years, Stern denied the pain and the trauma of the assault. Following the example of her family, Stern—who lost her mother at the age of three, and whose father was a Holocaust survivor—focused on her work instead of her terror. She became a world-class expert on terrorism, a lauded academic and writer who interviewed terrorists around the globe. But while her career took off, her success hinged on her symptoms. After her ordeal she could not feel fear in normally frightening situations.

Stern believed she'd disassociated from the trauma altogether, until a devoted police lieutenant reopened the sisters' rape case and brought her back to that harrowing night more than three decades past. With the help of the lieutenant, Stern began her own investigation—bringing to bear all her skills as a researcher—to uncover the truth about the town of Concord, her family, and her own mind. The result is Denial, a candid, courageous, and ultimately hopeful look at a trauma and its aftermath.
Title: Denial
Author: Jessica Stern
Pages: 300
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Review: I was really disappointed in this book. I don't really know how to put what I am feeling about it into words. I think this book was too all over the place and it seems like the author still hasn't came to terms with what happened to her. Also I was confused because to me it seems like her grandfather molested her but she never really comes out and admits it, it is just assumed. And she keeps saying her sister got raped but I thought that she begged him not too and he didn't? I don't even know. I feel like so much could have been let out of the book because it didn't pertain to her actual story and it took away from the severity of the situation. Like what exactly is this book about? Her rape? Soldiers and their PTSD or terrorism? Who knows. I wish that the story was just about her rape and her trying to comes to terms with it and finding the perpetrator. I did enjoy that there was different accounts from some of the other victims. And that's about all I have to say. Not sure if I would recommend this read to anyone or not.

About this author

Jessica Stern is a Lecturer in Public Policy and a faculty affiliate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. From 1994-95, she served as Director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, where she was responsible for national security policy toward Russia and the former Soviet states and for policies to reduce the threat of nuclear smuggling and terrorism. In 1998-99, she was the superterrorism Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and in 1995-96, she was a national Fellow at Hoover Institution at Stanford University. She also worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Stern received a bachelor's degree from Barnard College in chemistry, a master of science degree from MIT, and a doctorate in public policy from Harvard. She is the author of the New York Times Notable Book, Terror in the Name of God and The Ultimate Terrorists, as well as numerous articles on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. She lives in Cambridge, MA.

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