Journalist Jon Krakauer investigates a spate of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula over a four-year period. Taking the town as a case study for a crime that is sadly prevalent throughout the nation, Krakauer documents the experiences of five victims.
Underneath the surface of Krakauer's incisive critique of these profoundly flawed systems lies a single necessary question: Why is it so hard for us as a culture to believe the word of a woman asking for help? ... by grappling so rigorously with this issue and with the myriad ways women are traumatized and retraumatized by seeking justice through the institutions that claim to serve us, Krakauer's investigation will succeed in altering the conversation around sexual violence in ways women's experience alone has not.
Krakauer doesn’t just tell the story of these crimes. As he has done so brilliantly in his other books he sets the story firmly in the context of social history. He gathers relevant research and debunks scores of misconceptions about rape.
Missoula comes to us partly as an act of expiation, a book with a mission: to inform readers of certain brutal facts about rape and the way it can alter its victims’ lives, and to highlight the difficulty victims often experience in their search for justice. But basing it on the reported sex crimes at the University of Montana — which yet again reveal themselves to be no special example of institutional indifference — may have undermined the enterprise. There is certainly great suffering described in these pages, but the book will do more to reinforce its readers’ various opinions about college sexual assault than to bring huge numbers of them to a new understanding of its basic realities.