“Missoula” tough topic, tougher realizations

misscoverSome topics are beyond difficult to talk about—war, violence, murder, politics, etc. Every once in a while, an author comes along who isn’t scared of those difficult topics.

These writers don’t care about the boundaries they’re pushing and the people they offend. Instead they live guided by the pursuit of truth and justice. These folks, aren’t only authors, but they are journalists who shake up the foundation of beliefs we have about society and our culture.

One such writer, and the best at doing this in my opinion, is Jon Krakauer. He’s had a number of best sellers in recent years, such as “Into the Wild” and my personal favorite “Under the Banner of Heaven.”

His most recent work entitled  “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” deals with a topic not often discussed or written about—the date rape epidemic taking place in our college towns.

While I normally talk about fiction books on my blog, I regularly find myself completely engrossed in nonfiction works. This book particularly had me intrigued. For one, I think that Jon Krakauer is brilliant in his writing and ideology. Second of all, I like reading about those tough subjects so that I gain perspective on them.

The book highlights the town of Missoula, Montana, a small college town invested more in football than safety of those living within city limits. Krakauer tells the stories of multiple women who have been sexually assaulted in this college town. The horrific testimonies of these women’s experiences fill this book, but what’s even more upsetting is the way the government within Missoula handled these situations.

Within this book you will find detectives, government officials and campus leaders downplaying and even disregarding rape cases in order to keep up appearances or keep popular players on the college football team. You’ll see police officers who are supposed to be helping troubled women in their time of need, instead blaming these women for the horrible things that have happened to them.

“Missoula” is definitely eye opening, and overall a good read. For those who don’t like nonfiction, this book will prove to be a little drier than some of his other works. It is filled with dialogue and testimonies from real conversations and court appearances. There is also a lot of factual information mixed in as well. For those faint of heart, this also may be difficult to read. The accounts of each women are very graphic and upsetting.

Despite the things that may keep you from reading, though, it is truly a fascinating piece of work. Even though “Missoula” focuses only on one area, it makes me question what the justice system across the nation looks like in the context of date rape. How do other colleges handle this sensitive topic? Are other cities neglecting women who have experienced trauma as Missoula has clearly done? Why are people covering up such heinous acts instead of doing something about them? Why instead of punishing men who hurt women are we so focused on silencing the women and allowing these things to be morally acceptable?

Reading “Missoula” has made me very angry, and if you read it, you will probably be angry too. That being said, I recommend this book highly. I think it is important to be informed about hot topics like this, to take a stand and to have a voice. If you read this book, you will have opinions, questions and concerns just as I do. But more than that, you will be informed of the truth, and the truth is a powerful weapon to have.

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