“House of Evil,” A Tale of Torture

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by PoliticalChic, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. PoliticalChic

    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

    Oct 6, 2008
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    Brooklyn, NY
    “House of Evil,” by John Dean, is the recounting of a crime, and the trial of the participants.

    The tale recounted is a most horrific torture, and ultimately, murder of 16 year old Sylvia Likens….by a band of local neighborhood children at the direction of the seemingly normal mother of a number of the children. It addresses the lack of empathy, the total disregard of another human being. The book is difficult to get through without tears.

    In the forward of “House of Evil,” by John Dean, I found an essay by the then-Chief Trial Deputy to Marion County (Indiana) Prosecutor, Leroy K. New. He wrote this as forward for the first edition of the book, in 1966.

    Mr.New writes:
    “…at time, it seemed, the entire neighborhood turned on Sylvia. Why? She was gentle by nature and kind to them. Could it be that a national attitude or psychology of the time has eroded and distorted human values to the terrible extent that this generation rewards indolence, exalts muggers, tolerates murder and encourage people to believe they have some proprietary right to other people’s properties and , indeed, even to their very lives. If so, we are engulfed in a massive moral breakdown that generates civil disobedience and promotes elastic tolerance of wrongdoers.

    Thus, to those removed from Sylvia’s environment, what happened is shocking and senseless. To those caught up in it, it simply may be a way of life. That way of life may now be on trial also. Andi if the Sylvia Likens story reflects the moral course America now follows, I say calmly and deliberately that we are on the road to oblivion as a nation. We are free, as citizens, only because every other citizen is restrained from the invasion of the rights of others.”

    That was then….
    …but, also, speaks to us now.

    The story was made into a film, “An American Crime.” I understand it’s not for the squeamish.

    Actually, it is difficult to recommend this book; it was difficult to read. But for those who have read the work of Rousseau, positing that mankind is good by nature, 'a noble savage,' this is the companion piece, more to the point than Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”
    And, it’s totally factual.

    But if one has grown up with an insouciant view of human nature....it is a must read.

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