Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Over the Counter #327
First up is The Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and Salvation in the Heartland by Dan Barry.
From the publisher, Harper Collins:
"With this Dickensian tale from America’s heartland, New York Times writer and columnist Dan Barry tells the harrowing yet uplifting story of the exploitation and abuse of a resilient group of men with intellectual disability, and the heroic efforts of those who helped them to find justice and reclaim their lives.
In the tiny Iowa farm town of Atalissa, dozens of men, all with intellectual disability and all from Texas, lived in an old schoolhouse. Before dawn each morning, they were bussed to a nearby processing plant, where they eviscerated turkeys in return for food, lodging, and $65 a month. They lived in near servitude for more than thirty years, enduring increasing neglect, exploitation, and physical and emotional abuse—until state social workers, local journalists, and one tenacious labor lawyer helped these men achieve freedom.
Drawing on exhaustive interviews, Dan Barry dives deeply into the lives of the men, recording their memories of suffering, loneliness and fleeting joy, as well as the undying hope they maintained despite their traumatic circumstances. Barry explores how a small Iowa town remained oblivious to the plight of these men, analyzes the many causes for such profound and chronic negligence, and lays out the impact of the men’s dramatic court case, which has spurred advocates—including President Obama—to push for just pay and improved working conditions for people living with disabilities.
A luminous work of social justice, told with compassion and compelling detail, The Boys in the Bunkhouse is more than just inspired storytelling. It is a clarion call for a vigilance that ensures inclusion and dignity for all."
A Killing in Amish Country: Sex, Betrayal, and a Cold-blooded Murder by Gregg Olsen and Rebecca Morris.
From St. Martin's Press"
"At just 30 years old, with dark-blonde hair and freckles, Barbara Weaver was as pretty as the women depicted on the covers of her favorite "bonnet" stories - romance novels set in Amish America. Barbara had everything she'd ever wanted: five beautiful children, a home, her faith, and a husband named Eli. But while Barbara was happy to live as the Amish have for centuries - without modern conveniences, Eli was tempted by technology: cell phones, the Internet, and sexting. Online he called himself "Amish Stud" and found no shortage of "English" women looking for love and sex. Twice he left Barbara and their children, was shunned, begged for forgiveness, and had been welcomed back to the church.
Barb Raber was raised Amish, but is now a Conservative Mennonite. She drove Eli to appointments in her car, and she gave him what he wanted when he wanted: a cell phone, a laptop, rides to his favorite fishing and hunting places, and, most importantly, sex. When Eli starts asking people to kill his wife for him, Barb offers to help. One night, just after Eli had hitched a ride with a group of men to go fishing in the hours before dawn, Barb Raber entered the Weaver house and shot Barbara Weaver in the chest at close range.
It was only the third murder in hundreds of years of Amish life in America, and it fell to Edna Boyle, a young assistant prosecutor to seek justice for Barbara Weaver."
(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)