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Scandal du Jour

Brockman is not here to rejoice in today's new book gossip so it falls to me to satisfy our blog readers' appetite for scandal. While plagarism was last week's news the current topic under fire has circled back to "truth telling" in both journalism and memoir. In brief, two very different books are under fire but in very different ways.

Sebastian Junger's A Death in Belmont is a reexamination of the murder of Bessie Goldberg in 1963, and the conviction of Roy Smith, a black man who had been working in Goldberg's house the day of her death. Junger suggests that the murderer may have in fact been Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler. The book raises more questions than it answers and has been receiving excellent reviews. However, two people have been very angered by Junger's book — the victims daughter Leah M. Goldberg and a lawyer friend of hers, Joshua Marquis. Both have posted their arguments onto the book's customer comments on our website (and other book sites), and you can read them here.

Publisher of A Death in Belmont, W. W. Norton has issued a response to the accusations waged against Junger's book and you can read it here.

The customer comments don't stop there, though!

Last week I received a phone call from a Dr. Loren Pankratz who is a Consultation Psychologist in independent practice and Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon. He said that he had read a review I had written a year and a half ago on a book called Sickened. In a most polite way he wondered if I was aware that the author, Julie Gregory, was being investigated about her claims that her mother abused her via Munchausen by Proxy. An investigator, Brian Morgan, has been working on behalf of Julie Gregory's mother to disprove Gregory's accusations and has successfully petitioned to return the mother's adopted children who were taken away from her after Gregory had worked to have them removed for fear that her mother would similarly abuse them. Mr. Morgan has also been posting on the book's customer comments and you can read his statements here.

Stay tuned, I don't think the fur will stop flying yet...

Books mentioned in this post

  1. A Death in Belmont
    Used Hardcover $1.50
  2. Sickened: The True Story of a Lost...
    Used Trade Paper $5.95

2 Responses to "Scandal du Jour"

    Brian Morgan May 19th, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    I am the journalist Brian Morgan, and whilst I was certainly alerted to this situation by the accused mother, Sandy Gregory, as a journalist I adhere to my professional code of conduct which is to uncover the truth. This is not on anyone person's behalf.

    As it happens the only persons who have co-operated with me have been Sandy Gregory and numerous US state and local institution officials.

    Neither the author, Julie Gregory, nor the publisher have co-operated.

    Yes, it was Sandy Gregory who asked me to investigate. But since then this has been entirely pro-bono and in pursuit of the truth.

    The author and publisher have a financial interest in maintaining that the claims in the book in the true.

    Joshua Marquis January 23rd, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I had never met Leah Goldberg/Scherurman until I was asked by the WALL STREET JOURNAL to review Junger's book. I was a journalist and an investigator before I became a lawyer and I researched the book heavily. I discovered Mrs. Scherman as a source and as I revealed what I learned I guess we became "friends." But the flaws in Junger's journalism were many and serious. Contrary to several sulky comments by Junger on both CNN and to a couple interviewers the publisher NEVER reached out to me and my work was heavily vetted by the WSJ. I enjoyed THE PERFECT STORM but many years of trying cases told me something wasn't right about a lot of things - large and small in A DEATH IN BELMONT. He got places and names wrong, he made the defense attorney an aspiring politician when he was a sitting state senator, he put Mrs. Scheruman in the courtroom during the verdict when she was many miles away. The book enjoyed massive promotion - a two hour special by Anderson Cooper on CNN - but it never did that well. Junger has resumed what he apparently does well - war reporting.

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