Sunday, January 15, 2006

Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture - by John Conroy

Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People is a riveting book that exposes the potential in each of us for acting unspeakably. John Conroy sits down with torturers from several nations and comes to understand their motivations. His compelling narrative has the tension of a novel. He takes us into a Chicago police station, two villages in the West Bank, and a secret British interrogation center in Northern Ireland, and in the process we are exposed to the experience of the victim, the rationalizations of the torturer, and the seeming indifference of the bystander. The torture occurs in democracies that ostensibly value justice, due process, and human rights, and yet the perpetrators and their superiors escape without punishment, revealing much about the dynamics of torture.

Here are what some other people are saying about it:

"The most compelling parts of the book are Conroy's interviews with the 'ordinary people' of his title... He approaches torturers not as monsters but as fellow human beings."--John Schwartz, Washington Post Book World
"Conroy's book is nothing short of gripping... He has allowed himself to identify not only with victims but with those who tolerate torture... He has dared to place himself at the emotional center of his difficult, troubling subject and forced us to follow him there."--Jill Laurie Goodman, Chicago Tribune
"A brilliant, disturbing book."--John Krewson, The Onion
"Conroy's book is a page turner."--Carlos Salinas, Amnesty Now
"Conroy's reporting is inspired."--David Bosco, New York Times Book Review
"Intelligent and insightful."--Dan Cryer, New York Newsday
"I am impressed with Conroy's intellectual honesty and unflinching humanity.... He wants to understand how torture happens, and his curiosity drives this disturbing book."--Anne-Marie Cusac, The Progressive (Best Books of 2000)
"Conroy's book, the work of 10 years, is thought-provoking, chilling and a brilliant piece of reporting."--Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"A Chicago journalist's gripping, disturbing inquiry into torture and human nature."--Chicago Tribune

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