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The State Boys Rebellion

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  300 ratings  ·  43 reviews
At age seven, an orphan boy named Freddie Boyce finally believed he had found a real home with a kindly widow who raised foster children on her farm in rural Massachusetts. But when his foster mother died in the winter of 1949, Freddie was subjected to a rudimentary IQ test and then sent to a state institution for the feebleminded. There, along with other relatively normal ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published April 20th 2004 by Simon & Schuster
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 602)
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Victoria Weinstein
I met Freddie Boyce, one of the subjects of this shattering story, at the end of his life. He gave me an autographed copy of the book and a stuffed animal from his days working for the carnival.

I consider it a great honor to have presided at Freddie's funeral. I will never forget him.

I am currently reading a book about McLean Hospital, which is what reminded me of "The State Boys." Everyone in the Boston area should know this history.
A pretty compelling non-fiction work. Reads much more like a novel with great character development and story lines. Covers several decades in the lives of several men who were committed to a state facility for the mentally retarded in Massachusetts. Somewhat grim given what was done to these boys but the thread of hope and the emergence of independence is always at hand. Well worth your time and it provides lots to talk about in terms of how we treat those who are different.
Nov 13, 2007 Monkey rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
I was fascinated by this book, it's quite tragic but hopeful at the same time. It's an important piece of history that was well documented by D'Antonio and a story well told. Especially interesting for New Englanders as well.
Yes it was informative, eye-opening to the chapter of American history that is most often 'forgotten' or disregarded. It is interesting how the APUSH book makes no mention of it. The plight is sad and largely ignored in America, etc. and I would wish for more people to know of it.
As a book, though, the writing style was not particularly remarkable, slash did not keep me very engaged [though I admit non-fiction is not typically what I read atoll].
The importance of the message [am glad to be
Ashland Mystery Oregon
Reading The State Boys Rebellion just after The Story of Beautiful Girl was almost more than I could bear. Moving from a fictional narrative about the institutionalization of the handicapped to the contemporary institutionalization of handicapped persons, orphans and kids from troubled homes made this episode in human history so much more tragic and wrong.

D'Antonio's work is the personal narrative of Freddie Boyce, one of a group of boys who refused to see themselves as feebleminded. It is also
Edwina Hall Callan
Heartbreaking and horrifying.
I cried my way through this book a little at a time.
Elise Dubois
I had never heard of the Fernald School, although I work 1 town over in Mass and grew up in NH. As I read this book, my heart went out to all the orphans in America. I was utterly appalled, horrified, and on some level fascinated with the contents. Very well written, and I am glad to hear that the full story came out, even if it was nearly 50 years later. I actually had a grad time reading this before bed, but was okay to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon on the. Porch reading this one. N ...more
Dena Pardi
I thought this book was terrifically informative. There was so much I didn't realize or didn't know about eugenics. To be honest I wasn't even aware of a movement such as eugenics which is truly a horrifying movement. It made me realize how dangerous ignorance really is. I appreciated that the book wasn't entirely focused on the atrocities and horrors that went on in some of these institutions. Not that they were glossed over but the book isn't mean to traumatize you but to educate you. There we ...more
Fascinating insight to a part of American history that not many know about. This is the story of institutionalized boys, deemed "retarded" based upon background, orphan status and changing IQ tests that end up in a state run school during the 30's through the 60's and what they endured. Shocking accounts of science experiments, sterilizations, abuse all done in the name of "eugenics" for a better America. The unfortunate part is a lot of these kids were as normal as anybody, but due to bureaucra ...more
I liked this alright. I enjoy literary journalism for its accessiblity, and this chronicled part of disability history in an engaging way. I was disappointed but not surprised by its aim at a mainstream white readership, which meant that "race" and "disability" where conflated in troubling ways, as though mutually exclusive, and "disabled" meant "white," even though two of the central people whose stories shaped this book and led the activism it detailed were folks of color. Also, the discussion ...more
This book was terrifying that this really happened to these children. No one spoke up for them, well, at least not strongly. They were normal! Yet they were institutionalized over a flawed IQ test. No one should have been subjected to the sexual and physical abuse that these boys suffered. But they were able to fight back, but those in the care of the institution that could not fight back is just unimaginable. I am sick. We must NEVER let this happen again.

But, this book was more about overcomi
Gabriel Olmeda
This was an intense book that my sister told me to read. It is about the eugenics movement and the separation of mentally disabled people before the 1970s. Very informative and not for the faint of heart.
Bookmarks Magazine

DreamWorks Pictures recently purchased the film rights to State Boys Rebellion, the retelling of one of America's most shameful episodes in history. Fernald was no anomaly. Similar institutions, fostering more than 250,000 mostly normal (if unprivileged) children, survived through the 1970s. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist D'Antonio, author of acclaimed books including Atomic Harvest, recounts this heartbreaking story through archival research and interviews with former State Boys and Fernald

One of the better non-fiction books I've read in a long time. Very sad and eye-opening account about how normal kids were labeled "morons" and "retarded" and institutionalized en masse in the 50s and 60s. I don't think many young people know how bad these kids had it back then. But it also follows a group of them after they finally get their freedom and then throughout their adult lives where things get better for some.

Author strikes a good balance of historical research and personal anecdotes,
An amazing sad yet you will cheer for them..and never eat Quaker Oatmeal again..
Rose Joyce
Sad history of Fernald School for MR in Waltham MA.
I will give this book four stars because it is such an important topic, so rarely explored.

However, the writing is not worthy of a 4, unfortunately. The second half of the book seemed randomly assembled, with too many details of things such as how carnival games work and too few details on the more relevant topics such as their "finding justice".

Still, important topic, definitely worthy of reading.
For those who are involved with clients from the Department of Mental Retardation or have ever been on the Fernald School campus will be intrigued by this book. I have heard many of the stories behind Fernald but when I actually sat down and read the book my heart was broken. Knowing that individuals I worked with went through this torture. It shows what a long way we have come as a society.
This book completely opened my eyes to a time period that so much injustice was occuring and I didn't even learn about it. That shocked me that this piece of history is just left out of history books. Americans acting like German Nazis?? And let's pretend like it didn't happen??? R-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s. Seriously...
This was an awesome book. Period.
This is certainly not an easy read as far as content but very interesting. I have worked at McLean Psychiatric Hospital therefore this was even more fascinating and heart wrenching knowing that what these boys went through happened on that very same campus. The buildings look the same!
I'm so glad that I read this! I used to live in Watertown, and I never knew the history of it. I got 6 copies for both my friends and folks who intern at my day-program for folks with brain injuries, SteppingStones, because I feel it's a story to be read by everybody!
Kim Kastler
This is both uplifting, yet sad, as I was a volunteer at the Fernald School in the 1970's through LSRHS. Unbelievable conditions, unbelievable men who had to find lives after Fernald. The eugenics are a big part of the law suit, but not as much as part of the book.
America failed to save their own- the most desperate children and despite reparations YEARS later,the emotional scars behind these boy's accounts will do so much to break our hearts, wondering how our nation can become so neglectful and sadistic...
This book will show you that the US is not the innocent bystander they have always tried to portray. If you want to know where Hitler got some of his ideas then read this book and it will chill you to the bone.
Lisa Lap
A heartbreaking story about the way children were treated in this country years ago. It's amazing how far we have come in education and welfare and it's such a shame the children that had to suffer before we got it.
Facinating book - describes the boys conditions while staying at the state school - Fernald - for the insane and feeble minded that was founded in the nineteenth century. Fernald is located in Waltham MA.
a stunning piece of history. the writer crafts an amazing story that you feel very drawn into and you want to learn more. If you know nothing about the eugenics movement, you need to read this
WOW!!! I had eye opener to the ugly side of our goverment. I had to put this book down many times out of anger and disbelief. But love the strong side of these boys
Good book and really good research. It just took me forever to get through. There were a lot of details in the middle that made it hard to push through.
Jun 16, 2008 Kerrilynn marked it as needs-to-be-dusted-off  ·  review of another edition
I could only get through the first few pages of this book. What these boys went through is horrifying. I definitely want to go back to it at some point.
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The Book Was Better: STATE BOYS REBELLION 2 6 Apr 09, 2014 10:16AM  
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