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The Boys of the Dark: A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in the Deep South

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  177 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
A story that garnered national attention, this is the harrowing tale of two men who suffered abuses at a reform school in Florida in the 1950s and 60s, and who banded together fifty years later to confront their attackers.

Michael O'McCarthy and Robert W. Straley were teens when they were termed "incorrigible youth" by authorities and ordered to attend the Florida School fo
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published August 1st 2010)
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Cindy Dyson Eitelman
I'd read the horror stories--the true horror stories--so I was kind of afraid to read the book. But they had it at the library so....

It's a brief history of the Dozier Reform School For Boys near Marianna, Florida, combined with the story of the two courageous men who exposed the torture and abuse that went on there.

If one believed a place could be evil, this would be the place. It was Florida's first reform school, built in the late 1890s. From 1900 until its final closure in the 1980s, it wa
Dec 31, 2010 Katrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is easy to read, but tells a true story that will give you nightmares!
The horrible injustices listed in this book are enough to make you think it's fiction. A haunting story, told in the manner of an investigative journalist, so it's easy to get read.
Basic story: what really happened to young men in the juvenile justice system in Florida from the 1950s on? Why did the Florida School for Boys have a secret room in a building? What happened to countless boys who are unaccounted for?
I t
Nov 13, 2013 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book with much interest because of my incarceration at what was called Florida School for Boys - Marianne later renamed Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys - Marianne. My first time was for ten months summer 1965 to spring 1966. I went "down" once to the White House during that time. The man who administered that punishment was Mr Tidwell. A man with one arm showed a lot of power in every swing with the leather strap. After leaving my return was approximately two months later. I stayed ...more
Dec 21, 2010 Andres rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A harrowing read about two men who decide to come forward with their hellish stories about the terrible abuse they experienced as children in a state run juvenile institution. The story can be a tough read but it is an interesting look at how victims of such abuse deal with these terrible memories as adults, and how an institution can get away with this abuse, even when it is a well known "secret" to nearby residents of the town.

The book ends on sort of a positive note, but the book as a whole f
Emily Whelchel
The story itself was harrowing. I stayed awake until the early morning hours after turning the last page, haunted by the fate of the victims of the Florida School for Boys. What a terrible, terrible place.

However terrifying the true stories within the pages might be, the writing of the book itself fell a little flat for me.
Oct 14, 2014 Kait rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book was all over the place and just threw in random facts and people that were completely irrelevant. The book was also poorly written in that it had many spelling and grammar mistakes. I couldn't even force myself to finish it. Very disappointed.
Mar 07, 2016 SouthWestZippy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, true-crime
In 2006 the death of a 14-year-old boy in a Florida youth boot camp forced Robert W. Straley to confront emotions and memories he had bottled up for decades. Robert W. Straley then contacted Michael O'McCarthy, a fellow victim of the school and they went on to expose the truth about the school’s guards and administrators on how they acted as their jailers and tormentors. After fifty years Michael O'McCarthy and Robert W. Straley no longer held their secrets about what all happened to them and ot ...more
Laura McHale Holland
This is an eye-opening page turner of the true travails of boys abused in a juvenile facility in Florida throughout much of the 20th century. It conveys how boys, some as young as five years old were routinely beaten and subjugated, how they are still haunted by the brutal treatment they endured, how the townspeople nearby knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it, and how two of the survivors, in particular, came together to bring the shameful history of the facility to light, get the state ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Laurastome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vey sad and presumably true story. How awful - abuse that has hurt hundreds of men and left ruined families in its wake.
Apr 11, 2014 Stasi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good book. Hard subject but everyone needs to know this story so this kind of horrific thing never happens again.
Helen Smith
Apr 09, 2015 Helen Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good book, but sad. These men are very inspiring.
Mary Lou
Mar 25, 2014 Mary Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Julianne Maguire
A great book that warns of the very dark implications of town/county economies that rely on one entity. Translation: If a citizenry is barely getting by, and there's only one employer in town, and that employer decides to act immorally, most will choose to preserve their own livelihood and look the other way.

Well written, but, because of its length (short) leaves as many questions unanswered as it explores. I believe that was probably the author's intention, though.
Megan Richardson
I started this book after getting home from a friend's house at about 10:30 planning on reading a few pages and going to bed. I finished the book at 12:30. I couldn't put it down! The public was so up in arms about the torturing that happened at Abu Ghraib, but the same things have been happening in the United States. To Children! And nobody did anything about it for literally 100 years. This book was terrible, but amazing at the same time.
David Ward
The Boys of the Dark: A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in the Deep South by Robin Gaby Fisher (St. Martin's Press 2010)(365.42) is a true story of the horrible conditions that existed in the twentieth century at the Florida School For Boys in Mariana, Florida. This was a reformatory which regularly featured beatings and torture of the boys/inmates even unto death. My rating: 6.5/10, finished 3/1/12.
Paige Norman
Oct 15, 2013 Paige Norman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very well written book; although hard to deal with the subject matter. It was sad in very many ways but the author didn't gloss over things or make them seem politically correct. I find it horrifying that the state and the local people just let this place exist for so many years and that so many boys/men were ruined and abused -- sometimes murdered -- while others just looked the other way.
Oct 27, 2010 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very disturbing read. While it's not the author's fault that this is a story without a real end, I only gave it 4 stars because it left me hanging, wanting to know if these men would ever get justice and if the state of Florida would admit to wrongdoing instead of sweeping these atrocities under the rug.
Mar 29, 2013 Irene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book not only tells of the horrors concerning the Florida Boys Reform school, it also tells of the steps taken by the White House Boys to make these horrors known and seek validation. A very interesting read, as the public and the White House Boys are still waiting for all questions to be answered.
Mar 30, 2011 Janet rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting more. The book was fine. But a little boring. I was expecting to read about massive amounts of horror the boys endured. I wasn't expecting the book to be more about their emotional turmoil in their adult life.

Book as fine. Just not the book I was expecting to read.
Diane Burke
Oct 17, 2013 Diane Burke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the horror these men went thru as children who were place in state custody is disturbing. I wish that they would of waited for the final outcome before writing the book, would of been nice to read about some form of justice for all the families still in limbo waiting for answers. good quick read.
I read about two chapters and I couldn't take it anymore. The violence the two men, and countless others, endured was more than I could handle. And I'm usually pretty thick skinned. Be warned if you give this one a shot, it's a tough read.
Feb 22, 2015 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books-read
Quick read. Would like to read the newspaper articles that were referenced in this book. The subject characters were very brave to tell their stories and hope that it helps them find peace and closure.
Aug 12, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book itself is pretty good. The subject matter is is jaw dropping. I am going to add that I think this should be made into a movie so everyone will know what happened to these boys.
Nov 03, 2014 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well told story about a heart wrenching event. The fact that it happened in my home state ..even to boys in my home town made the story hit home even more.
It's amazing the depravity of man kind. This is a quick read, very short book, but not one that you would easily forget. Very harrowing and sad
Liss Capello
I don't even know how to review a book like this. The story is so sickening, I have no idea whether it was well or poorly written.
Mary Drayer
Feb 06, 2011 Mary Drayer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This true story will blow you away with the betrayal and human suffering that has gone on for over fifty years! You will be asking WHY?
Ms. Bentley
Aug 27, 2014 Ms. Bentley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was awful. I couldn't get past the plethora of grammatical and spelling errors to actually enjoy the book.
Susan Collins
Jul 15, 2013 Susan Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Easy read. Quite disturbing. As a mother it'll break your heart.... A reminder of how cruel man can be.
Jan 11, 2015 April marked it as couldn-t-get-into  ·  review of another edition
I may like this if I'm in a certain mood. But I'm just up for reading something so depressing. :(
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Robin Gaby Fisher is a news feature writer for The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey's largest daily newspaper. She specializes in telling stories about regular people living through extraordinary circumstances. She has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, in 2001 and 2005. She has been the recipient of the National Headliner Award and the Nieman Foundation at Harvard' ...more
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