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No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times (Wall Street Journal Book) [Paperback]

Dorothy Rabinowitz
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

24 Feb 2004 Wall Street Journal Book
In No Crueler Tyrannies, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dorothy Rabinowitz re-frames the facts, reconsiders the evidence, and demystifies the proceedings of some of America's most harrowing cases of failed justice. Recalling the hysteria that accompanied the child sex-abuse witch-hunts of the 1980s and 1990s, Rabinowitz's investigative study brings to life such alarming examples of prosecutorial terrors as the case against New Jersey nursery school worker Kelly Michaels, absurdly accused of 280 counts of sexual assault; the as-yet-unfinished story of Gerald Amirault's involvement in the Fells Acres scandal; Patrick Griffin, a respected physician whose life and reputation were destroyed by one false accusation of molestation; and Miami policeman Grant Snowden's sentencing of five consecutive life terms for a crime that, as proved in court eleven years later, he did not commit. By turns a shocking expose, a much-needed postmortem, and a required-reading assignment for prosecutors and judges alike, No Crueler Tyrannies is ultimately an inspiring book about the courage of ordinary citizens who believe in the American judicial system enough to fight for due process.

Product details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (24 Feb 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743228405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743228404
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.1 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,593,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Nat Hentoff "Village Voice, " Editor & Publisher, United Media Newspaper Syndicate, "Legal Times" Not many journalists are truly investigative reporters -- spending weeks, months, even longer to get inside the whole story. No reporter is braver, more tenacious, and more effective than Dorothy Rabinowitz -- as her compelling book "No Crueler Tyrannies" vividly demonstrates. On each of these stories, she started alone, sometimes in personal danger, and eventually, most of the rest of the national press followed her lead. --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

About the Author

Dorothy Rabinowitz, winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in commentary, is a member of the editorial board and a culture critic for The Wall Street Journal. She writes opinion pieces and television criticism for the paper. Prior to joining the Journal, Ms. Rabinowitz was an independent writer. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Commentary, Harper's Magazine, and New York. She is the author of New Lives, a study of survivors of the Nazi death camps, and has been a syndicated columnist and television commentator. She lives in New York City.

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In his early thirties, Gerald Amirault began to know what it meant to be content. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cruel tyranny of false accusation 23 May 2010
By Alison
I read this book straight through, couldn't put it down.
It is very well constructed and written - but OMG! the horror these people were put through for baseless accusations, false evidence and prosecutors determined to get a conviction regardless of truth and justice. These cases mainly started in the 1980's when accusations of child sex abuse was at fever pitch in America. The accusations and "evidence" were ludicrous and ilogical and the accounts document the immoral tactics used to get allegations out of the mouths of young children who initally insisted nothing bad had happened but were then manipulated and their words twisted into what the investigators wanted to get. The people's lives were destroyed, they were convicted and sent to prison for crimes that had not even occurred let alone by them. Most have since been released but as at the time the book was written - published 2003 - one man was still in prison after 16 years.
It seems there were "experts" and various professionals, lawyers who would make a lot of money out of constructing cases - it was big business by the sound of it - regardless of the truth and the welfare of the children they were getting this false information out of - they manipulated them until they believed dreadful things had happened to them. and the convicted people were considered unrehabilitated and unfit for parole because they maintained their innocence instead of "taking responsibility" and confessing. These examples are disgraceful miscarriages of justice, I cannot find any words that adequately reflect how disgusting the prosecutor's behaviours were - and in the Land of the Free as well! The country that believes itself to be the best democracy in the world and that it has the right to take moral outrage at what happens in other countries.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
85 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The horror of our modern day Salem witch trials 23 April 2003
By David Thomson - Published on Amazon.com
The very hint of being a child molester can destroy the life of even the most virtuous among us. Dorothy Rabinowitz has witnessed first hand the persecution and imprisonment of those who were almost certainly wrongly convicted of this vile crime. Perhaps not since the Salem witch trials has such a miscarriage of justice occurred within the United States. These unfortunate victims have been arrested, tried, and convicted, on evidence so weak that it defies common sense. A Saturday Night Live and Monty Python comedy skit could easily be created out of these court cases. A cynic is indeed tempted to burst out laughing at the utter madness of it all. Isn't our system of justice premised upon the concept that one's guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt? If so, how does a rational adult take seriously a child's claim that a knife had been jammed into her rectum when there wasn't even the slightest bit of physical evidence to support the charge? Pseudo educated psychologists were able to present junk science theories to juries that should have never been allowed into the courtroom. Heck, in most cases, the initial suspicions concerning the suspects should have been dismissed by the police after no more than a few hours investigative work. The accused were, however, intractably caught in a Catch 22 predicament. "The rule of thumb guiding child interviewers in these cases was a simple one," declares Rabinowitz, "if children said they had been molested, they were telling the truth; those who denied they had been abused were not telling the truth and were described as `not ready to disclose...'" The suspects were obviously doomed the very first moment when their nightmare began.
The author strongly suggests that the citizens of Massachusetts should feel a particular sense of shame. The prosecutors and governors of this once formally great State have thoroughly disgraced themselves. Gerald Amirault currently remains in prison due to their treachery and cowardliness. Rabinowitz astutely asserts that there is no crueler tyranny than to be unfairly jailed by the government which is suppose to protect your rights. This book will enrage those possessing even the slightest bit of moral decency. It should then prompt you to advocate for Mr. Amirault's freedom---and make sure that no other American citizen again spends time incarcerated for a crime they never committed. Lastly, we should demand our universities explain why such shabbily trained mental health processionals obtained credentials from their institutions.
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true 30 April 2003
By Samuel washburn - Published on Amazon.com
I just finished reading the sections of the book about The Amiraults. It's just heartbreaking. Thank you so much documenting forever the The Cruel tryannies that the Massachusetts "Elite Therapeutocracy" impose on people like the Amiraults who can't defend themselves.
The parellels between this episode and the Salem Witchcraft hysteria are sickening considering how we should have learned from that experience: Child Witnesses; zero corroborating physical evidence, financial gain for the accusers at the expense of the accused. Sadly the one parellel that does not exist is that within several years the Salem accusers and prosecuters admitted they were wrong and asked the forgiveness of those they had accused and ruined. Harsbarger, O'Reilly and the others have yet to do that and persist in torturing what's left of the Amiraults everytime they attempt to make the world recognize their innocence. I guess Harshbarger's Harvard experience must have inbued him with the same elite arrogance that Cotton Mather (Witchcraft judges' advisor) must have picked up there 350 years ago! Mather ended up being spit upon on the streets of Boston and reviled by history once the Salem hysteria subsided. Harshbarger and the others deserve a worse fate. People should know better by now!
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but too brief. 28 April 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I have the greatest respect for Dorothy Rabinowitz and the work she did reporting on these stories; I credit her as much as anyone with the Amirault women being freed from jail. However, since I had read the articles she originally wrote about these cases, I found very little new in this book. I would have liked to have learned much more about the parents of the 'abused' children, the prosecutors bringing these cases, and particularly about the 'expert' witnesses who brain-washed the supposed child victims into making the accusations.
I believe this is an important book, a permanent record of truly heinous prosecutorial misconduct. It could have been more, however, and I hope that the rest of this story will eventually be told.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely chilling 23 Jun 2003
By Michael Booker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The negative reviews to this book seem to be saying that, if we ever say that someone is falsely accused of child molestation, then we're pretending that molestation doesn't exist. This is *precisely* the twisted logic that rainroaded innocent people into jail for crimes that never took place.
Rabinowitz has to claim early on in her book things that are so obvious that it hurts to read them. *Of course* child molestation is a horrific crime which merits society's strongest possible response. That does not, however, mean that every accusation is true, and that normal stadards of evidence and logic can be discarded if the charge is sufficiently evil.
The cases that Rabinowitz recounts are not just of innocent people convicted of crimes they didn't commit. Her stories are about innocent people convicted of crimes that weren't commited by *anyone*. The only child molesters in these stories are the "helping professionals" who have psychologically maimed children by brainwashing them into believing that they were sexually violated.
I give Rabinowitz credit for her determination. I have quibbles with her writing style, but her work is a powerful resource.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a well-deserved pulitzer 8 April 2003
By amanda - Published on Amazon.com
in our increasingly pc culture, dorothy rabinowitz's exploration of how false abuse accusations can, and often do, ruin lives is a fascinating and hearbreaking reality that we all must face. this is a brilliant, moving book from a talented modern journalist
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