Ed Erwin's Reviews > Mangez-le si vous voulez

Mangez-le si vous voulez by Jean Teulé
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Jul 22, 12

Read from May 27 to June 09, 2012

Hated this. The subject is a very interesting one. It tells the true-life story of an ordinary country guy, well-liked by his neighbors, until one afternoon, on the slightest suspicion, they decide he is an enemy spy, and then torture, kill, and perhaps partially eat him.

I expected the book to tackle the issue of how such a thing could happen. How can a peaceful group of ordinary people suddenly erupt into a crazed mob willing to do the most inhumane things. But it doesn't even try. It just presents the series of events, with an emphasis on the details of the torture. The characters are cardboard thin. They speak in pure exposition. The victim is presented as practically an angel. The mob is treated as pure devils, which they were at that moment, but presumably they were ordinary people the day before.

This book is so short I should have been able to read it in a few hours. But it gives such graphic descriptions of torture after torture that it was impossible to keep going. I pressed on in hope that there would be some redeeming quality later on. The bibliography shows that the author had done a great deal of research, citing among other things a book on the madness of crowds. So I was really hoping for some pay-off in terms of an analysis of how this could happen, or lessons that can be learned. But there was nothing.
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