#Nonfiction Book Review: A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong

A False Report - A True Story of Rape in America

*Thanks for the free book, Crown Publishing; it’s my pleasure to be a part of your monthly book send programme and provide honest reviews for the titles chosen*

As is evident from the title, this book may contain triggers for some people.

bookdescription

Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists tell the riveting true story of Marie, a teenager who was charged with lying about having been raped, and the detectives who followed a winding path to arrive at the truth.

On August 11, 2008, eighteen-year-old Marie reported that a masked man broke into her apartment near Seattle, Washington, and raped her. Within days police and even those closest to Marie became suspicious of her story. The police swiftly pivoted and began investigating Marie. Confronted with inconsistencies in her story and the doubts of others, Marie broke down and said her story was a lie—a bid for attention. Police charged Marie with false reporting, and she was branded a liar.

More than two years later, Colorado detective Stacy Galbraith was assigned to investigate a case of sexual assault. Describing the crime to her husband that night, Galbraith learned that the case bore an eerie resemblance to a rape that had taken place months earlier in a nearby town. She joined forces with the detective on that case, Edna Hendershot, and the two soon discovered they were dealing with a serial rapist: a man who photographed his victims, threatening to release the images online, and whose calculated steps to erase all physical evidence suggested he might be a soldier or a cop. Through meticulous police work the detectives would eventually connect the rapist to other attacks in Colorado—and beyond.

Based on investigative files and extensive interviews with the principals, A False Report is a serpentine tale of doubt, lies, and a hunt for justice, unveiling the disturbing truth of how sexual assault is investigated today—and the long history of skepticism toward rape victims.

mythoughts

Upon finishing A False Report, I had to take some time and reflect back on all that I’d read. Sometimes, when I read books such as this one, I immediately want to give it a five-star rating and the highest praise due to the courage displayed by the survivors.

“All I did was survive, and I was criminalized for it.”

I struggled with this book review, because I struggled with several aspects of this book; I worried that elements that didn’t work for me would be misconstrued, so firstly, let me be absolutely clear – I am in no way taking anything away from the strong women who survived a truly horrific experience, and I admire their bravery in allowing their experiences to be shared.

Regarding the way this book is written, I struggled to connect with the writing style and the chosen tone. From the opening page, to the very last, this book is told in a very “matter-of-fact” way and, for me, it lacked emotion. This book contains sexual abuse statistics, and a lot of background information on how certain things came into being, for example, rape kits and police databases. While this information was interesting, combined with the tone of the writing, made this read like an academic textbook at times.

I really wanted to love this book, as harrowing a subject as it was, because I think books like this are important for raising awareness and can act as a cataylst for change; most important of all, they are a platform for the survivor’s voices to be heard. And I think a lot of that comes from the emotion one feels when they read books like this, the outrage at such a crime, the failing of a police force, the treatment of victims – this ignites emotions, highlights the flaws in humanity and creates a desire for a better way of doing things. However, a lot of this was lost by the tone and way this book was narrated. I know I keep mentioning the tone, but for me personally, it weakened the “voice” of these women, in the sense that I lost the emotional connection.

In a book such as this, you are always going to be somewhat effected, so I won’t lie and say this book had no impact on me at all, it was just not the book I thought it would be. I would like to end this review by highlighting the positive – I take nothing away from these women or their experiences, their strength and courage; also, this book shows there are some very strong and dedicated police officers who work extremely hard to achieve justice. It’s evident this book has been well-researched and I appreciated the ‘Acknowledgements’ at the end, as two male authors wrote this book, it was good to see who they consulted during the journey to publication.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Book Depository

22 thoughts on “#Nonfiction Book Review: A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong

  1. Another great review – incredibly balanced. Sounds like an interesting read Janel, personally I don’t think I mind a ‘matter of fact’ tone, I would like to read this one and will look out for it and let you know what I think!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! This book was so troubling, it stayed with me long after reading. I agree that the tone wasn’t always a rich narrative – I think I chalked that up to its being written by two authors. I find that sometimes affects the writing style as it’s less a single person pouring the story out. I guess it didn’t bother me so much here, I’m not even sure I noticed it, but maybe because I read so much nonfiction as it is I’m more used to the straightforward factual format! Loved hearing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a very good point, I’m definitely not used to the factual format as used here, and I suppose that’s why I felt such a disconnect because I was like “huh, this isn’t how these books are usually written.” And a second good point, about two authors, I suppose it would be harder to covey the tone I was hoping for.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! It’s always difficult writing a less than absolutely glowing review for a book around a sensitive subject (my experience being with Small Great Things), but you did it superbly! It’s well written and level-headed. I hope your next book you enjoy more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very interesting review! I tend to prefer less of a ‘personalized’ and more of a ‘scientific’ tone in nonfiction titles, even when they’re dealing with horrific crimes – some discussion of personal impact is of course good to keep the reader engaged and provide that connection to what victims went through, but I feel that too much easily strays into sensationalism and takes away from the informational element I’m looking for when reading nonfiction. Does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes perfect sense! I definitely prefer the more personalised approach but I suppose when the authors are telling someone else’s story, as oppose to their own, the scientific approach certainly avoids the risk of sensationalism.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Brilliant, very honest and very fair review Janel. It’s tough writing a review like this sometimes but I think you covered perfectly the positive and not so positive aspects of this book especially with such an emotive topic!

    Liked by 1 person

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