Hidden far from sight, deep in the thick underbrush of the North Florida woods are the ghostly graves of more than 30 unidentified bodies, some of which are thought to be children who were beaten to death at the old Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna. It is suspected that many more bodies will be found in the fields and swamplands surrounding the institution. Investigations into the unmarked graves have compelled many grown men to come forward and share their stories of the abuses they endured and the atrocities they witnessed in the 1950s and 1960s at the institution.
The White House Boys: An American Tragedy is the true story of the horrors recalled by Roger Dean Kiser, one of the boys incarcerated at the facility in the late fifties for the crime of being a confused, unwanted, and wayward child. In a style reminiscent of the works of Mark Twain, Kiser recollects the horrifying verbal, sexual, and physical abuse he and other innocent young boys endured at the hands of their "caretakers." Questions remain unanswered and theories abound, but Roger and the other White House Boys are determined to learn the truth and see justice served.
©2009 Roger Dean Kiser; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
Painful. Hard. Sad.
I am a child advocate and began my (volunteer) work with children of abuse/neglect in the early 1970s (and still do); a number of my cases involved children that were beaten to death and dealing with siblings that survived. The heartache and struggles that are carried from one generation to the next. Often detachment is the only way to survive.
This story is very real and I can see how such facilities could have been in many other states (and countries).
It is a wonder that Roger Dean Kiser was even able to relive and go through such brutality and was able to tell about it. It had to be tough just to reduce all of this pain to a book.
I am proud of him.
I couldn't take all the reality in one sitting. I had to space it out because of the vivid brutality. Even with my personal experience with children (now adults), it was hard. But, a story that needed to be told. There are more stories out there. But, this kind of story takes a lot of courage.
Thank you Roger Dean Kiser. You are a testiment to the survival and you may help other children.
This book was difficult to listen to at times due to the nature of the story, however, once I started I absolutely needed to finish it. I would definitely recommend this book, but be aware of when you're listening to it. It's heart wrenching and, at times, disturbing. Probably not great bedtime listening.
Pretty well got the gist of the events on the first reading, and wouldn't go back unless I was researching the institution and needed names.
As bad as things were, Kiser revealed his resilience in being able to survive what was realy an atrocious experience.
I would forget that Kiser was not reading his own story. I can't call it an enjoyable read, but Smith brought an empathy to the narrative that made it a more valuable experience.
It was strong out of the gate, the early chapters well written and tight, but the ending lacked an important aspect of resolution -- retribution. As a reader I wanted to know that justice was served, that at least some of the evil ones paid some kind of price. Maybe in a sequel.
This book makes me wonder how things were for my uncle in the 1930's in reform school. People who were in charge of this place in Florida should be in prison or in hell if they're already dead.
Very well done book. Lessons to learn here.
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