Jon Krakauer began researching this book after learning that a friend of his had been sexually assaulted twice in her life, both times by “non-strangers”. Krakauer, like many people, had always pictured rapists as men with masks hiding in the bushes, pouncing on random women. In his research, he learned how incredibly often that women are raped by people they know — either closely or as acquaintances — and how seldom those rapists are brought to justice. He chose to focus his attention on a series of rapes that occurred in the college town of Missoula, Montana.
“Using data gathered in 2011, the CDC study estimated that across all age groups, 19.3 percent of American women “have been raped in their lifetimes” and that 1.6 percent of American women—nearly two and a half million individuals—“reported that they were raped in the 12 months preceding the survey.”
This was a difficult book to read — I had to keep giving myself breaks from it — and I can only imagine how hard it would be for someone who could be triggered by the kind of things that occur here. Krakauer does a fantastic job of explaining the main events of the two years he focused on — 2010 to 2012 — and it’s obvious that he did his research not only into the rape cases prosecuted (or not) in Missoula, but instances of sexual assault nationwide. I felt very frustrated at the actions of some of the people in the book, particularly the prosecutor who chooses not to prosecute, then quits the DA’s office to defend one of the accused players. Made my blood boil. And by the end of the book, I felt very connected with the victims in each crime — which made the outcomes of each trial even more powerful.