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Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb
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Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  651 ratings  ·  84 reviews
In March 1989 a group of teenage boys lured a retarded girl into a basement in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and gang-raped her. Glen Ridge was the kind of peaceful, affluent suburb many Americans dream about. The rapists were its most popular high school athletes. And although rumors of the crime quickly spread through the town, weeks passed before anyone saw fit to report it t...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 28th 1998 by Vintage (first published June 11th 1997)
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I just wrote some comments on the book Until Proven Innocent, which was about the Duke lacrosse fiasco. In that case, a community engaging in class warfare, law enforcement, and the media all conspired to blame the accused, long after obvious contradictions had arisen.

Our Guys is kind of the flip side to that nightmare (but is essentially the same nightmare). Here the community blamed the victim and rallied around the accused, long after the damning facts came out and these athletes' mythology h...more
This book could have been sensationalist & pedestrian given the subject matter &, frankly, the tendencies of most True Crime writers (pump out that book quick before the media blitz stops). I would imagine that when you are writing about something like the gang rape of a retarded teenager by a group of suburban athletes, many of whom had known her since childhood, it would be very easy to write something slick & prurient. Mr. Lefkowitz manages to avoid that.

Mr. Lefkowitz spent 7 year...more
♥ Marlene♥
This was a very interesting well researched book about a case I did not know anything about. It happened quite a long time ago, and it is about a group of popular high school students, who were footballers and because of that (and other sports) they were admired (even though they were not even that good at it) who raped a mentally retarded girl and instead of being ridiculed by the community where they lived, they were all blaming the victim.

It is mostly about how in America at schools, sports...more
I was assigned to read this book in a college class on gender, and it fit the "you-can't-put-it-down" category better than any other I can think of. I agree with critics that Lefkowitz lets too much of his bias into the already compelling story. But he does an excellent job providing background of the incident: history, culture, specific people.

Having recently suffered high school, much in this book didn't surprise me. A reviewer from Glen Ridge gave interesting comments (I lived in the area at...more
A statement on page 491 of this book pretty much says it all: " ... through her (the girl who was raped) life it appeared that the values of the community around her; the community she grew up in, had not progressed beyond those of a high school pep rally." And that's pretty much what the town of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, feels like while reading this book: a town that, adults included, lived through and for its high school athletes (boys only, of course), protected them at all costs, and believed...more
This book describes the facts of how a group of suburban teenage boys attacked and raped a retarded girl, and covers the subsequent trial. But Lefkowitz goes far beyond that: he describes the childhood of the people involved, the environment of the school and town, and the reaction of the people in town and beyond. He tells of how the attackers started with small examples of inappropriate behavior when they were younger, but were never punished for it -- how they were given passes time and again...more
Dan Sharber
phenomenal book. if you want to understand what happened in stubenville ohio the read this book. it is a scathing indictment of the toxic american culture that breeds victimizers and rapists. this book is clear that there are no bad apples but a corrosive environment that encourages the strong and affluent to pick on the weak and especially female. it's a jockocracy of misogyny. and it started before these boys lured their victim into the basement and raped her and is clearly still occurring tod...more
Jan 09, 2013 Ang added it
I don't know what star rating to give this book. I hate saying it's worth three or four or five stars, because of how horrible it's going to make you feel. It's going to leave a really ugly, really horrible taste in your mouth. So many things are wrong with what happened in Glen Ridge, but I want to just say: a town that would let a school IGNORE a boy MASTURBATING openly in class has something so wrong with it that it's surprising more crimes weren't committed there. You know what? Scratch that...more
David Ward
Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb by Bernard Lefkowitz (U. Cal. Press 1997)(364.1532). This was not the perfect suburb at all. Lower-middle class and blue-collar high school students in the Boston area were totally unsupervised or constrained while at school. Particularly shameful was the tolerance shown of the way the “jocks” (both girls and guys) were allowed to bully fellow students (particularly girl students) both in and out of school. This is the story...more
Sep 23, 2011 stacy added it
I read this book--every heartbreaking word--years ago, but in light of the recent Texas event (one we've all come to hear about among the many we have not), I'm passing the book along to friends and plan to read it again.

Who was it who said, "History repeats itself"?

When do we learn...
This is an extremely well-written and detailed take on a very awful incident - an incident that is, unfortunately, not as much of a one-off as I wish it were. I'd say it should be read by everyone, but I doubt those who need it most (i.e., the parents of boys like the "jocks" of Glen Ridge) wouldn't see themselves or the monsters their sons are becoming; not to mention the enablers they and their daughters are.

At the end of it all, I'm sure the Archers, Scherzers, et. al. all still think whatev...more
Most compelling reason for why we should change the way we look at sport players.

Sad thing is, nothing has really changed since this book came out.
Even though this covers a difficult subject, every teacher, coach, principal and parent should be required to read this book.
Elise R
Fantastic, FANTASTIC book! I can't recommend it enough. Especially in the light of cases like Steubenville and Marymount, it's a disturbing and well-researched reminder of the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same. A young girl with mental retardation is raped in a basement in a brutal fashion by the town's teenage elite. Lefkowitz interviews current and former residents of Glen Ridge, as well as friends and family of both the victim and the perpetrators. This book is jus...more
i read this for a juvenile delinquency class and it was disturbing.
Aug 10, 2011 Adam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Moms. Dads. Teens. Coaches.
It's hard to rate this book because no one in their right mind would want to 'like' it. I wish rather that I could rate it with an appreciation level rather than a degree of 'likeness.'

As for appreciation, a five star, for sure. This story of Glen Ridge highlights so many ways in which our society falls short. So many ways in which we turn a blind eye to that which we chose not to see. So many ways in which we facilitate that which we wish to deny, or create that which we condemn. Worse yet are...more
This book infuriated me. I felt that the writing was long-winded and the author was blatantly following the style of "yellow journalism" - he focused so much on the emotional factors of the story, rather than focusing on the different versions of the story, that even though I rationally agreed with the conviction of rape, I felt that my emotional persuasions were being manipulated in that direction. Overall, it led to a very confusing version of events that seemed really muddled.
There are many...more
Lara Tambellini
This was a very well written book.

It was a crime that captured national attention. In the idyllic suburb of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, four of the town's most popular high school athletes were accused of raping a retarded young woman while nine of their teammates watched. Everyone was riveted by the question: What went wrong in this seemingly flawless American town? In search of the answer, Bernard Lefkowitz takes the reader behind Glen Ridge's manicured facade into the shadowy basement that was t...more
I read this book for a sociology class for college. I thought this book could have been written with half the pages. It was so slow and full of way too much details. Too much background, too many people in the book with not much to add to the main idea. It was a long slow painful dragged out book. The idea if the book is that the town is messed up because they supported the athletic boys who raped the mentally retarded young women with a broom, stick & baseball bat as well as orally. But the...more
AdultNonFiction Teton County Library
Teton County Library Call Number 364.15 Lefkowitz
Suzy's rating: ****'s
Lefkowitz reveals a hidden adolescent world in idyllic Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He spent six years researching this book, and conducting hundreds of interviews, while studying the 1989 gang rape of a mentally retarded teenager, by the town's prized high school athletes. The young woman was violently raped, and sexually assaulted. Nine athletes were reported to have watched the crime. This investigation reveals a world in which...more
Cat Mckaig
A friend passed this book to me and I didn't think I would enjoy reading it, but did. well written and the author provides a great deal of context and background info- so that the pieces fit together.
Only book that I ever really had to read for a class that I couldn't put down. Maybe because it takes place in NJ in a town similar to the one I grew up in. Maybe because I knew dopes like this growing up. Maybe because there was a kid in Legal Studies 101 with us who was from the town and was kind of sticking up for the Jocks and let slip the girls' real name in class once. And maybe because I got to talk to Dave about it all because we were taking the class together. Great book. And great outl...more
Andrea Loucks
This is a great book for teens to read. It talks about peer pressure, sexual misconduct, inappropriate behaviour and to treat people like they are HUMAN BEINGS. Just because a small town puts their jocks on a pedestal, the one young lady who happens to be mentally disabled is taken advantage of. The town stands behind the jocks not the otherway around. I was disgusted by the way the people stood behind the accused and not the innocent victim. This is a true story. A lot of stuff could have been...more
Denise Bruerton
Excellent book, just hard to stomach
I went through a phase in college when I was taking a number of sociology classes that lead me to really enjoy a number of true crime books. One of my classes was taught by a prosecutor in one of the district courts and he had us read this book as part of an assignment. The crime is really disturbing and seemingly easy to convict at first glance. But once you layer on the human elements, the story isn't so clear. It's an easy read and good if you like to dive into real life who-dunnits.
Most telling passage in the book ...

"Scherzer [the father of two of the defendants] looked out the window. 'Look,' he said to the author, 'I'm not defending the morality of the situation. What happened was -- but you're talking about sixteen-year-old kids with a hard-on. What would we do at that age?'

"Court officers said the trial was about to resume. Jack Scherzer opened the door to the public corridor, but stopped and looked back. 'I tell you, I'll never be the same,' he said."
Horrifying story of a young girl that was brutally raped by a gang of boys. This book presents the problems of the everyday "boys will be boys" attitude and why letting the little things slide leads to enormous and heartwrenching problems. This could be any town. This could be any mentally disabled girl and any group of boys. It makes your heart hurt, but the hardest things to read are the things most worth knowing.
It gets worse the longer you read it. There is about 200 pages of story here. But the author retells it so many times it borders on prurient. As a "shocking" expose of White Jock privilege, it would only shock people not raised in America. As a crime novel it it too melodramatic, and as a trial story it is a transcript with quotation marks.

You can probably get all you need from a good search of the news story.
This was my first real dabble in the true crime genre, and it was fascinating and horrible at the same time. To think that something like this could actually happen is terrible, but the author did a great job of describing the corrupted town and the disturbed youth that felt as though they owned the place. To hear about anyone who's challenged in any way, in this case mentally, get taken advantage of is really sad.
Lefkowitz does a good job of presenting facts from the trial and investigation, as well as his own commentary on the community of Glen Ridge and the treatment of the elite in similar communities. However, his habit of skipping back and forth in time, as well as being quite repetitive, hurt the overall flow of the narrative. Very informative overall, but sometimes could be a chore to read the same thing yet again.
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