BULLYING BOOKS

We have read, reviewed and recommend these books which are focused on physical and psychological bullying, harassment, abuse, and slavery.

CRUEL SACRIFICE by Aphrodite Jones 
When a young lesbian learns her lover has become involved with twelve-year-old Shanda Sharer, a group decide to scare Shanda by a night of intensive bullying. What began as an attempt to teach Shanda a lesson she would never forget escalated into torture and murder.

IN HIS SIGHTS: A True Story of Love and obsession by Kate Brennan.
This memoir explores an astounding level of sadism via stalking. The author, a professor and scholar, found herself wooed, courted and seemingly adored by a man possessing a charm bound to enchant any number of women. By the time she began to grow wary of the menace beneath his affection, Ms. Brennan had come to trust this man with her most private details.
Eventually, having felt forced to end their relationship, she realized he had learned enough to darken each day of her life with a combination of terror and anguish. Her predator’s wealth was such as to enable him to hire, and then hide behind, countless harassers, pervading every aspect of Ms. Brennan’s day-to-day interactions. At the conclusion of her book, despite a strong bolstering of police protection, Ms. Brennan feels she can never enjoy a sense of complete release from her vindictive tormentor. 

It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life worth Living edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller
This book brings together stories of the ways some young people have dealt with the torment endured as a consequence of their gender preference. Some of these accounts voice the struggles and agonies of those with a gay or transgender lifestyles, sometimes leading them to view suicide as their only choice. 
This book also includes messages of encouragement and compassion from renowned or famous people such as President Barack Obama, Bishop Gene Robinson and actress Ellen DeGeneres.

CREATING a BULLY-FREE CLASSROOM by Carol S. McMullen
Bullying, both physical and verbal, pervades every level of society. Often its beginnings are spotted in a
classroom setting. The approaches learned in this framework have a high likelihood of impacting upon the future conduct of each of the parties involved: bully, victim and bystander. As will be shown, the boundaries dividing those involved are not always as clear-cut and straightforward as they might first appear.
This book offers a flexible compendium of ideas as to how a teacher and school system might work towards alleviating this issue. Based on ideas and language geared to each age-group, the author, herself a teacher, describes ways in which a classroom can be transformed into a community where diversity is enjoyed and encouraged rather than scorned, spurned or treated with cruelty.
Where appropriate, parents can also be urged to participate in overcoming these tendencies in their offspring. Frequently, having implemented suggestions, parents have reported a significant lessening of sibling brutality and harassment.

TEARS AT BEDTIME by Tom Wilson.
For at least 26 years, David Murphy, “Uncle Davy”, exploited his position of power in children’s homes, combined with his reputation for rectitude, to abuse and molest a large number of boys. Tom Wilson, one of “his boys”, found it hard to understand his own later compulsion to commit a series of petty crimes resulting in prison sentences which sabotaged his relationships.  When a newspaper article alerted him of a search for Murphy’s past victims, Wilson, after a deal of inner strife, risked stepping forward. Later, apprised of his right to bring a personal injury claim against the by then affluent Murphy, Wilson consulted the same lawyer who had defended him regarding his previous misdemeanors. Once this lawyer learned the circumstances, he said, “I truly believe, Tom, that was when it all went wrong for you.” 

TAKE the BULLY by the HORNS: Stop unethical, uncooperative people from Running and Ruining Your Life by Sam Horn
Try as we might, it is impossible to avoid encountering those who enjoy positions of strength, whether through use of muscle and influence on a school playground, in relationships with those who tend to be argumentative, or in work situations. Divided into 28 sections, this book suggests strategies designed to combat, in a nonviolent way, these kinds of attackers. In addition, it provides numerous examples of both harmful and helpful responses in setting territorial boundaries on a variety of levels.

Shadows of The Workhouse by Jennifer Worth
The idea of the workhouse has become too much of our modern world, a part of Dickensian fiction.  In fact, no politically sanctioned venue has perpetuated bullying to a crueler  deeper degree than has that of the workhouse. Indeed, many of its employees, having been reared inside its confines, knew no other existence. Thus, they passed the “parenting” they had received onto their destitute victims.
For the impoverished, able, by the most fragile of margins, to maintain their own dwellings, fear of being forced into a workhouse proved an on-going horror. Based upon accounts of various residents and the memories of those who knew them, this book chronicles these experiences in an absorbing, often painful account.

Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh.
Walsh was Born into a culture in which the route to respect for a man lay in the depth of their savagery. Still, though brutalized from pre-school days onward, he refused to absorb this ethos. Later, the virulence of his father’s homophobia came close to bringing about his death.  Following years of turmoil, now a contented man, he takes pride in the positive aspects of Romany life, without endorsing the cruelties of the past. CAVEAT: While this is a magnificent memoir, we cannot recommend it to those with a strong sensitivity to descriptions of violence.

EVIL GENES: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend by Barbara Oakley.
Nearly all of us have, at some point, been subjected to bullying. Later, whether this bullying has taken physical or psychological form, we often question ourselves as to the roots of our vulnerability. Ms. Oakley’s book discusses those traits certain charismatic people possess which allows them such power. Her findings are based on the most up-to-date research from a spectrum of fields. Interspersed with her studies of dictators and business tycoons are insights into her sister’s psychopathy. Thus, in addition to providing information on cutting-edge knowledge, Ms. Oakley’s book is an intriguing and delightful read.

SLEEPERS: by Lorenzo Carcaterra. 
This memoir, (made into a film) recounts the history of a group of young friends. Their series of pranks escalate in degrees of harm, ultimately causing permanent injury to a vendor. Consequently, the group is sent to a reformatory. Once there, they find themselves subjected to bullying beyond their most horrific imaginings. Years later after their release, they reunite as a team in order to avenge themselves upon the most sadistic of their former guards.

BULLY: Does Anyone Deserve To Die? A true story of high school revenge by Jim Schutze.
Bobby Kent, at the core of a clique, seemed to let no opportunity pass for physical or psychological bullying; in fact, he appeared to delight in his power. In his arrogance, he failed to recognize the fact that he was creating a potential backlash. In time, his cruelty generated true hatred. Growing stronger, this venom spurred a number of Kent’s one-time followers to first plot, almost hypothetically, and then carry out his murder. While making no effort to veil or excuse Kent’s wrongdoing, the author questions the raw street justice which brought this 20-year-old to his death.

SLAVE: My True story by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis.
In 1994, at age 12, the author was captured by Arabian raiders, and then sold into slavery. Her forced labor began in Khartoum. Later, sent to London, she hoped a European household would treat her with more compassion, respect and understanding. All too soon, she learned that the bullying, though in a subtler form, remained unabated. In terms of social commentary, we might infer that, given sufficient power/control, a householder in any country might descend to the level of brutality associated with more civilizations. At 20, the author, she was able to escape and find asylum in the UK.

FALLEN LEAVES: The true story of an unwanted Chinese daughter by Adeline Yen Mah.
This author suffered psychological torture from her earliest years. Bullied by her brothers and stepmother, the author was able to sustain her belief in herself via her excellent scholastic record and the loving support of an aunt. Ultimately, she became a respected physician in America. Still, despite her financial generosity to her family, their cruelties continued.

A CHILD CALLED “IT”: An abused child's journey from victim to victor by Dave Pelzer.
At a young age, Dave Pelzer’s relationship with his mother appears to have been warm and nurturing. Then, as rage and alcoholism consumed her, she began bullying, beating and starving him, reveling in his struggle to keep up with her horrific time-table of household tasks. At last he was rescued and placed in foster care. In time, he was able to recover from his emotional damage.

THE ROAD OF LOST INNOCENCE: the true story of a Cambodian heroine by Somaly Mam.
Ms. Mam never knew how or why her parents disappeared during the Pol-Pot regime. Invited into the home of a seemingly kind couple, in time she was sold to an older man. After exploiting her in a variety of ways, this man sold her to the manager of a brothel. As Ms. Mam writes, the inner scars of those years can never be purged or erased. This lingering anguish has spurred her to become an activist in preventing abuses to children and young people of both genders, at times placing her own life at risk via the strength of her efforts. Still, her quest continues. 

CRANFORD by Elizabeth Gaskell
Not all bullies view themselves as controlling or cruel. Such tyrants can prove the most menacing in that their victims, feeling no rancor  often fail to defend their most basic rights. This is exemplified in Elizabeth Gaskell’s gentle, poignant novel in which a matriarchal sister wrecks her younger, vulnerable sister’s chance to marry a man with whom she could have found true contentment.  In the end, the lovers are reunited, but there is little time left to them.

FIRST FATHER, FIRST DAUGHTER: A Memoir by Maureen Reagan
The author recounts that, as a child, her mother, Nancy Reagan, regularly slapped her face consequent to the slightest annoyance. One evening, Summoned into her parents’ room, Maureen was given both a severe reprimand and grave warning by her father.  Ronald Reagan explained that so fragile was Nancy’s health that even the slightest argument could result in her death.  Naturally, young Maureen became terrified. 

UGLY by Constance Briscoe
In this memoir, Ms. Briscoe recounts, in horrific detail, the physical and psychological abuse inflicted upon her by her mother.  These cruelties were ostensibly due to a bed-wetting problem which she believed was deliberate. (It seems not to have occurred to her that her abuse lay at the core of this problem.) Doing all in her power to undermine the author’s confidence, she succeeded in convincing her that she was truly ugly.  This would later result in the author’s undergoing several cosmetic surgeries. In recent times, her mother has sued her on the basis that the information within the memoir was libelous   The author was vindicated when, despite tearful pleas and entreaties, her mother’s claim was defeated.  

SAPPHIRA and the SLAVE GIRL by Willa Cather.
This book reflects, in fictional form, an incident in the author’s ancestry.  The aging plantation mistress Sapphira becomes obsessed by jealousy of the loveliness of one of her in-house slaves, Nancy.  Sapphira believes, erroneously, that Nancy is luring her husband away from her. Thus, she invites her nephew, a womanizer, to visit, forcing Nancy to serve him.  Ultimately, Nancy escapes seduction/rape with the aid of those who understand both her plight and her innocence.  
 

WOMAN on the EDGE of TIME by Marge Piercy.
This novel centers on the abuse of power, both societal and individual.  Connie, a Chicano woman, is coerced into a mental hospital by the coercion of those she trusts.  Once there, the browbeating by doctors and staff urge her further into the futuristic reality she has already begun to imagine.  In time, Connie creates her own grim form of retaliation against a real world in which she finds herself helpless.  

THE MAN WHO LOVED CHILDREN by Christina Stead.
This novel centres upon a man who believes himself to be a devoted, caring, nurturing dad.  In truth, he does all in his power to demean each of his children, setting one against another in any way feasible.   In time, his tactics drive one of these children to murder.

ON THE STROLL by Alix Kates Shulman 
At the core of this book is the strength of bondage created by emotional power.  The novel’s central character is a young runaway.  Feeling forced to flee her predatory father, she finds herself “rescued” by a seemingly concerned and considerate man.  This apparent benefactor, having gained her love, trust and confidence, first coaxes, then coerces her into prostitution.  Can she free herself from his grasp? Who, if anyone, might be willing to find the courage to guide her? 

THE COLOR PURPLE by Alice walker
The author of this magnificent novel has written that she intended it as a study of the gradual redemption of a brutish husband.  Based on the history of her forebears, the book details the horrific treatment of a young wife by a husband who seems determined to break both her spirit and will.  While respecting Ms. Walker’s intentions, I, as a reader, found it to be the evolution of a young girl into strong womanhood.  It is via her own inner strength, spurred by her husband’s mistress, which saves her from the depths of despondency, approaching the edge of murder.  

THE BURNING BED by Faith McNulty  
Francine Hughes married at age eighteen. When shortly after their wedding her husband began beating her, she believed herself to blame in that she could not feel the same level of love for him which he claimed to feel towards her.  Was it hurt, she wondered, at sensing this lack, which impelled his violence? Then, the abuse escalated to both physical and emotional torment.  Although the couple had four children together, his bullying grew in ferocity to the point of sadism. Finally one night, crazed beyond reason, Francine set fire to a room in which he was sleeping. Then, horrified by her act, she telephoned for help, but it arrived too late to save him.  

WEDLOCK BY Wendy Moore
When his wooing failed to win the hand and heart of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Andrew Stoney ensnared this heiress by staging a duel during which he pretended to sacrifice his life to defend her honor  Having convinced her of his imminent death, he persuaded her to allow him to leave this earth as her husband. This plea overcame her reluctance. After a swift “recovery”, Stoney soon unmasked himself as a bully of satanic proportions. Having survived years of abuse on every level, Mary escaped.
Still, what remained of her life was marred, both physically and psychologically, by Stoney’s brutalities. Indeed, she became a victim of the then unrecognized Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, P.T.S.D. 
After Stoney’s death, the surgeon who grovelled to him when alive, wrote:” He was a villain to the backbone. ... To sum up his character in a few words, he was cowardly, insidious, hypocritical, tyrannic, mean, violent, selfish, jealous, revengeful, inhuman and savage, without a countervailing quality.” Could there be a more complete definition of the absolute bully?

OUR GUYS: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb by Bernard Lefkowitz.
This book recounts bullying carried to a horrific extreme. A seventeen-year-old young woman diagnosed as having the mental age of seven or eight, was lured into the basement of the home of one of the perpetrators. His affectionate coaxing was viewed by the victim as “romantic”. In fact, it was the first step in a scheme to taunt and humiliate.
For most of her life, this young woman had struggled, largely in vain, to acquire friends, and as she matured physically, boyfriends as well. Thus, she allowed these supposed friends to coerce her into participating in a series of degrading acts. The title, Our Guys, indicates the esteem in which these young men, athletes at their schools and from “good families” were held. After this incident, community concern centered upon the assailants, their families, and the reputation of the suburb at large, rather than the cruelty inflicted and the victim’s psychological scarring.