"Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team the Grizzlies with a rabid fan base. The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical. A DOJ report released in December of 2014 estimates 110,000 women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are raped each year. Krakauer s devastating narrative of what happened in Missoula makes clear why rape is so prevalent on American campuses, and why rape victims are so reluctant to report assault. Acquaintance rape is a crime like no other. Unlike burglary or embezzlement or any other felony, the victim often comes under more suspicion than the alleged perpetrator. This is especially true if the victim is sexually active; if she had been drinking prior to the assault and if the man she accuses plays on a popular sports team. The vanishingly small but highly publicized incidents of false accusations are o
"*Starred Review* Missoula, Montana, a college town of 70,000 people in western Montana, has made headlines in recent years for rape, both on and off the University of Montana campus, and most notably for the number of cases involving players on the University of Montana Grizzlies football team. The notoriety has spawned everything from a viral blog post (My Weekend in America's So-Called Rape Capital,' Jezebel) to a Department of Justice investigation. Krakauer, who most recently wrote about another scandal with a Montana connection (Three Cups of Deceit, 2011, examines the misdeeds of Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson, whose Central Asia Institute was headquartered in Bozeman), tackles several highly charged cases and reminds us that rape is often not an instance of he said, she said but she said, he denied, and the community refused to listen. Built primarily around the cases of Beau Donaldson, the Montana Grizzlies fullback and linebacker convicted of rape, and Jordan Johnson, the star quarterback ultimately acquitted of the charge, Missoula tells a much larger story, one that comprises multiple cases, scores of people, and a detailed time line. While the book showcases Krakauer's rigorous reporting and disciplined writing style he doesn't waste a word on the scenery the clinical blow-by-blow seems barely to conceal his rage. What he reveals is a clear pattern in which young women who reported being raped were not properly served by the agents of justice in Missoula. Do you have a boyfriend? is a question commonly asked by investigators, with the insinuation that women who regret cheating on their boyfriends regularly recast consensual sex as rape. With a few notable exceptions, the women were disbelieved, condescended to, and then expected to be understanding when prosecutors declined to vigorously pursue their attackers. Using a transcript, Krakauer re-creates one mind-blowing scene in which a detective soothes in motherly fashion the accused rapist she is supposed to be interrogating: Don't beat yourself up more than you already have about this, okay? What are we to make of the fact that some of those who fail the victims are women themselves? Missoula, despite its reputation as a blue oasis in a red state (a popular local saying is that Missoula is only 20 minutes from Montana), is crazy about its football team. The raped women, their friends, family, and defenders, and even a local reporter who covers the stories, face ostracism, threats, and the accusation that they are somehow making things up in order to harm the football program. It seems little wonder when we learn how few rapes actually get reported. Krakauer is clearly angry but channels his anger into an important document that, if there is any justice in the world, will better our society's understanding and treatment of rape. Though this makes for grim reading, and the sheer volume of information can make the story somewhat difficult to follow (particularly the passages involving the defendant Donaldson, a detective named Donovan, and attorney with the last name Datsopolous), readers will be impelled forward by the sheer, heartbreaking injustice of it all. Many Missoulians will feel unfairly maligned by the book's title, which has stirred further controversy in a town that thinks of itself, with some justification, as progressive in many ways. While this book may be unique in its disquieting particulars for instance, the chief deputy county attorney who abruptly resigns, enters private practice, and joins the defense of Johnson the problem is universal. Krakauer points out that Missoula's rape statistics are actually very much like those of other similarly sized college towns throughout the U.S. It is to be hoped that we won't need a book written for each one of them, too, before things get better.--Graff, Keir Copyright 2015 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Sexual-assault victims are routinely met with indifference and incomprehension, according to this impassioned study of campus rape. Journalist Krakauer (Into Thin Air) follows a rash of rapes at the University of Montana in Missoula from 2010 to 2012, events that sparked a furor and a Justice Department investigation; Krakauer sticks with two cases in particular through agonizing courtroom dramas, spotlighting the two obstacles to justice. The first is haphazard investigation, made worse by the callousness and suspicion about the motives of women making rape allegations on the part of the university administration, the Missoula Police, and the county attorney's office. (The county's chief sexual-assault attorney quit and joined the defense in a high-profile rape case against the University's star quarterback.) The second is the counterintuitive behavior of traumatized victims, which often undermines their claims. (The quarterback's accuser failed to call for help from her nearby roommate, then sent an innocuous text message with a smiley icon and drove her alleged assailant home after the attack.) Krakauer's evocative reporting, honed to a fine edge of anger, vividly conveys the ordeal of victims and their ongoing psychological dislocations. The result is a hard-hitting true-crime exposé that looks underneath the he-said-she-said to get at the sexist assumptions that help cover up and enable these crimes. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."