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.
Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People The Dynamics of Torture
About the Book
"His book is nothing short of gripping. . . . An audacious book . . . 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."—Chicago Tribune
"Provocative. . . What sets Conroy's account apart is the kaleidoscope of perspectives he creates . . . A well-researched journalistic reminder that democracies are not immune from brutality."—New York Times Book Review
"It would be comforting to believe that people who commit acts of torture are monsters. John Conroy is out to dispel any such comfort . . . While the stories are told in measured prose, Conroy's anger suffuses every page."—Washington Post
"How is it that otherwise normal people can become part of the institutionalized practice of torture? That's the question driving this unusual, extremely well-reported book. . . . [Conroy] does an excellent job reconstructing [torture cases] in a manner that reveals the presence of torture in everyday society."—Publishers Weekly
""A lament and indictment . . . Passionate about indifference to torture . . . Conroy's intelligent and insightful book has much to offer."—Newsday
"Conroy's journalistic style meshes perfectly with the material, often cold-blooded and antiseptic with a hint of blood-curdling mayhem beneath the surface, and one of Conroy's main points--that the unspeakable evil that ordinary men do as torturers is simply a means to an end--is positively bone chilling."—Booklist
Table of Contents
1 BELFAST: The Five Techniques
2 ISRAEL: Night of the Broken Clubs
3 CHICAGO: Getting Confessions
4 History and Method
5 BELFAST: "No Brutality of Any Kind"
6 ISRAEL: A Dangerous Report
7 CHICAGO: "The Pain Stays in Your Head"
9 BELFAST: Ireland vs. the U.K.
10 ISRAEL: The Court-Martial
11 CHICAGO: Informants
13 BELFAST: Life Sentences
14 ISRAEL: "The Next Step Is to God"
15 CHICAGO: The Public Is Not Aroused