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The Boys of the Dark

A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in the Deep South

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A story that garnered national attention, this is the harrowing tale of two men who suffered abuses at a reform school in Florida in the 1950s and 60s, and who banded together fifty years later to confront their attackers.

Michael O'McCarthy and Robert W. Straley were teens when they were termed "incorrigible youth" by authorities and ordered to attend the Florida School for Boys. They discovered in Marianna, the "City of Southern Charm," an immaculately groomed campus that looked more like an idyllic university than a reform school. But hidden behind the gates of the Florida School for Boys was a hell unlike any they could have imagined. The school's guards and administrators acted as their jailers and tormentors. The boys allegedly bore witness to assault, rape, and possibly even murder.

For fifty years, both men---and countless others like them---carried their torment in silence. But a series of unlikely events brought O'McCarthy, now a successful rights activist, and Straley together, and they became determined to expose the Florida School for Boys for what they believed it to be: a youth prison with a century-long history of abuse. They embarked upon a campaign that would change their lives and inspire others.

Robin Gaby Fisher, a Pulitzer Prize--winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestselling After the Fire, collaborates with Straley and O'McCarthy to offer a riveting account of their harrowing ordeal. The book goes beyond the story of the two men to expose the truth about a century-old institution and a town that adopted a Nuremberg-like code of secrecy and a government that failed to address its own wrongdoing. What emerges is a tale of strength, resolve, and vindication in the face of the kinds of terror few can imagine.

From Publishers Weekly

May 17, 2010 – Though the abuse O’McCarthy and Straley suffered as teenagers in the late 1950s and early ’60s at the Florida School for Boys, a reform school, was horrific, journalist Fisher’s (After the Fire) maudlin tone dilutes their inspirational story. Both O’McCarthy and Straley were subjected to brutal beatings in a building known as the White House and heard rumors of other boys who were whipped and never seen again. The 2006 death of a 14-year-old boy in a Florida youth boot camp forced Straley to confront emotions and memories he’d bottled up for decades. He contacted O’McCarthy, now a journalist who’d made a documentary on the 1923 Rosewood massacre, and the two men tracked down other survivors of the Florida School for Boys, enlisting the help of former Florida legislator and children’s crusader Gus Barreiro. Fisher is strongest at detailing Florida’s lackluster history of treating youthful offenders but when conveying the emotional and often troubled lives of O’McCarthy and Straley in and after reform school, she adopts the tone of a cheesy after-school TV special.

Customer Reviews

Something we should all read

Although the lanuguage of this book is somewhat stilted in places and it has a very dry tone, the content is shocking. It is not only shocking that boys were beaten and everyone knew about it, yet did nothing, but that even our justice system may still not do something about it. This book is not really about the details of what happened to these boys, but more about their mission to see that it stop happening to others. I would hope you will read this book and support Joyner in her quest to pass a bill in Washington that will finally give retribution to the victims of such atrocities.

Too sad!

It is a shame that will be there for many years to come over Florida and I just hope that all the people who did this terrible things to innocent boys burn in hell for the rest of eternity and God have mercy over this angels that suffer so badly!!

The Boys of the Dark
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  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Aug 17, 2010
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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