Synopses & Reviews
"I have listened and I have been quiet all my life. But now I will speak."
One of the world's foremost experts on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder investigates her own unsolved adolescent sexual assault at the hands of a serial rapist, and in so doing, examines the horrors of trauma and denial.
Alone in an unlocked house in a safe neighborhood in the suburban town of Concord, Massachusetts, two good, obedient girls, Jessica Stern, fifteen, and her sister, fourteen, were raped on the night of October 1, 1973. The girls had just come back from ballet lessons and were doing their homework when a strange man armed with a gun entered their home. Afterward, when they reported the crime, the police were skeptical.
The rapist was never caught. For over thirty years, Stern denied the pain and the trauma of the assault. Following the example of her family, Stern—who lost her mother at the age of three, and whose father was a Holocaust survivor—focused on her work instead of her terror. She became a world-class expert on terrorism, a lauded academic and writer who interviewed terrorists around the globe. But while her career took off, her success hinged on her symptoms. After her ordeal she could not feel fear in normally frightening situations.
Stern believed she'd disassociated from the trauma altogether, until a devoted police lieutenant reopened the sisters' rape case and brought her back to that harrowing night more than three decades past. With the help of the lieutenant, Stern began her own investigation—bringing to bear all her skills as a researcher—to uncover the truth about the town of Concord, her family, and her own mind. The result is Denial, a candid, courageous, and ultimately hopeful look at a trauma and its aftermath.
“Denial is one of the most important books I have read in a decade....Brave, life-changing, and gripping as a thriller….A tour de force.”
One of the worlds foremost experts on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder, Jessica Stern has subtitled her book Denial, “A Memoir of Terror.” A brave and astonishingly frank examination of her own unsolved rape at the age of fifteen, Denial investigates how the rape and its aftermath came to shape Sterns future and her work. The author of the New York Times Notable Book Terror in the Name of God, Jessica Stern brilliantly explores the nature of evil in an extraordinary volume that Louise Richardson, author of What Terrorists Want, calls, “Memorable, powerful and deeply courageous…a riveting read.”
About the Author
Jessica Stern lectures on terrorism and is a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law. She holds a doctorate in public policy from Harvard. She served as a staff member at the National Security Council during the Clinton admin-istration. A 2009-2010 Guggenheim Fellow, she was selected by Time in 2001 as one of seven thinkers whose innovative ideas "will change the world." Stern is the author of the New York Times Notable Book Terror in the Name of God and The Ultimate Terrorists. She lives with her husband and son in Massachusetts.