Denial: A Memoir of Terror

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9780061626654: Denial: A Memoir of Terror

Denial is one of the most important books I have read in a decade....Brave, life-changing, and gripping as a thriller....A tour de force.”
—Naomi Wolf

 

One of the world’s foremost experts on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder, Jessica Stern has subtitled her book Denial, “A Memoir of Terror.” A brave and astonishingly frank examination of her own unsolved rape at the age of fifteen, Denial investigates how the rape and its aftermath came to shape Stern’s future and her work. The author of the New York Times Notable Book Terror in the Name of God, Jessica Stern brilliantly explores the nature of evil in an extraordinary volume that Louise Richardson, author of What Terrorists Want, calls, “Memorable, powerful and deeply courageous...a riveting read.”

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From the Back Cover:

"I have listened and I have been quiet all my life. But now I will speak."

One of the world's foremost experts on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder investigates her own unsolved adolescent sexual assault at the hands of a serial rapist, and in so doing, examines the horrors of trauma and denial.

Alone in an unlocked house in a safe neighborhood in the suburban town of Concord, Massachusetts, two good, obedient girls, Jessica Stern, fifteen, and her sister, fourteen, were raped on the night of October 1, 1973. The girls had just come back from ballet lessons and were doing their homework when a strange man armed with a gun entered their home. Afterward, when they reported the crime, the police were skeptical.

The rapist was never caught. For over thirty years, Stern denied the pain and the trauma of the assault. Following the example of her family, Stern—who lost her mother at the age of three, and whose father was a Holocaust survivor—focused on her work instead of her terror. She became a world-class expert on terrorism, a lauded academic and writer who interviewed terrorists around the globe. But while her career took off, her success hinged on her symptoms. After her ordeal she could not feel fear in normally frightening situations.

Stern believed she'd disassociated from the trauma altogether, until a devoted police lieutenant reopened the sisters' rape case and brought her back to that harrowing night more than three decades past. With the help of the lieutenant, Stern began her own investigation—bringing to bear all her skills as a researcher—to uncover the truth about the town of Concord, her family, and her own mind. The result is Denial, a candid, courageous, and ultimately hopeful look at a trauma and its aftermath.

About the Author:

Jessica Stern is a research professor at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies and a Fellow at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard’s School of Public Health. She served on the Clinton administration’s National Security Council Staff. She is the author of Denial: A Memoir of Terror; Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year); and The Ultimate Terrorists. 

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