Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town - Jon Krakauer

 

                As I was reading this, my friend (and I) was reading the review of the book in the NYT book review, and so of course, we had to talk about it.  While I disagree with some of my friend’s views (honestly, I don’t care how naked you both are, no is no, get over it), he did have a point, in fact he had two.  The first is one that Krakauer hints at in this book but doesn’t go into great detail, and that is the part alcohol plays in the numbers of acquaintance rape at campuses around the country.  The second reason, one that Krakauer touches on more strongly, is the culture that allows for such behavior.

 

                Krakauer’s latest book details the rape scandal that occurred in Missoula, Montana; it’s not that the town’s rape rate is high, but it hit the news.  In some ways, and this is going to sound nasty, the book sounds like Krakauer discovered that acquaintance rape occurs.  There are other books that while not focusing on these particular cases go into great detail about some of the issues that Krakauer raises here.  Krakauer even cites some of them. 

 

                In many ways, the most horrifying aspects of the book are the outside culture that allows the men at the college to get away with certain behavior.  And to be fair, if you live near a college, you know that it isn’t just football teams do this type of behavior.  Missoula is a case where the town lives for the team, so the players do have a special status, and because of this conviction is difficult simply for the viewpoints that various authority figures have.  In fact, the only authority figure that looks good is one of the higher ups at the college.  Even Baker, a sympathy police detective, does treat people differently based on whether or not he knows them

 

                Krakauer’s prose, as always, is gripping, but in many ways this would have been a better book if the connection to alcohol was studied in more depth (the amount of drinking in this town is staggering) or if Krakauer had focused more on the overhaul of the justice system, an idea that he mentions but could have presented more on.