The Boys of the Dark
A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in the Deep South
Publication Date: August 17, 2010
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A story that garnered national attention, this is the harrowing tale of two men who suffered abuses at a reform school in Florida in the 1950s and 60s, and who banded together fifty years later to confront their attackers.
Michael O’McCarthy and Robert W. Straley were teens when they were termed “incorrigible youth” by authorities and ordered to attend the Florida School for Boys. They discovered in Marianna, the “City of Southern Charm,” an immaculately groomed campus that looked more like an idyllic university than a reform school. But hidden behind the gates of the Florida School for Boys was a hell unlike any they could have imagined. The school’s guards and administrators acted as their jailers and tormentors. The boys allegedly bore witness to assault, rape, and possibly even murder.
For fifty years, both men---and countless others like them---carried their torment in silence. But a series of unlikely events brought O’McCarthy, now a successful rights activist, and Straley together, and they became determined to expose the Florida School for Boys for what they believed it to be: a youth prison with a century-long history of abuse. They embarked upon a campaign that would change their lives and inspire others.
Robin Gaby Fisher, a Pulitzer Prize--winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestselling After the Fire, collaborates with Straley and O’McCarthy to offer a riveting account of their harrowing ordeal. The book goes beyond the story of the two men to expose the truth about a century-old institution and a town that adopted a Nuremberg-like code of secrecy and a government that failed to address its own wrongdoing. What emerges is a tale of strength, resolve, and vindication in the face of the kinds of terror few can imagine.
ROBIN GABY FISHER is a Pulitzer Prize winner and two-time finalist for feature writing. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling After the Fire.
MICHAEL O’McCARTHY, a journalist and filmmaker, spearheaded the movement to bring to light the Rosewood Massacre, which would lead to government action and become the subject of the feature film Rosewood.
ROBERT STRALEY is a successful businessman from Clearwater, Florida, and the man who, after a lifetime of nightmares, first contacted O’McCarthy about his experiences at the Florida School for Boys.
Praise for The Boys of the Dark
"Haunting and disturbing. The voices of the victims will forever touch my heart. To turn a deaf ear to this type of injustice is to give permission for it to continue. As a people, as a society, we should be outraged." —Jennifer Thompson, coauthor of Picking Cotton
"[The Boys of the Dark] reads seamlessly.... A worthy exploration of a regrettably long-lasting true-crime nightmare." —Kirkus
“This deeply moving story is highly recommended to readers of heart-wrenching memoirs, 20th-century American studies, or true crime.” —Library Journal
Praise for After the Fire:
"Unimaginably moving--readers will want to keep a box of tissues at hand--and deeply compassionate." —People
"Honest and intimate... Fisher conveys a deep respect and compassion for all involved." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)