Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture

Unspeakable Acts Ordinary People The Dynamics of Torture Unspeakable Acts Ordinary People is a riveting book that exposes the potential in each of us for acting unspeakably John Conroy sits down with torturers from several nations and comes to understand t

  • Title: Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture
  • Author: John Conroy
  • ISBN: 9780520230392
  • Page: 130
  • Format: Paperback
  • Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People is a riveting book that exposes the potential in each of us for acting unspeakably John Conroy sits down with torturers from several nations and comes to understand their motivations His compelling narrative has the tension of a novel He takes us into a Chicago police station, two villages in the West Bank, and a secret British interrogUnspeakable Acts, Ordinary People is a riveting book that exposes the potential in each of us for acting unspeakably John Conroy sits down with torturers from several nations and comes to understand their motivations His compelling narrative has the tension of a novel He takes us into a Chicago police station, two villages in the West Bank, and a secret British interrogation center in Northern Ireland, and in the process we are exposed to the experience of the victim, the rationalizations of the torturer, and the seeming indifference of the bystander The torture occurs in democracies that ostensibly value justice, due process, and human rights, and yet the perpetrators and their superiors escape without punishment, revealing much about the dynamics of torture.

    • Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture ¦ John Conroy
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      Posted by:John Conroy
      Published :2019-05-06T07:00:13+00:00

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  • John Conroy

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  • 784 Comments

  • A journalistic type account of three instances of torture, two of them carried out by, if not the "ordinary people" of the title, at least people who generally don't cause severe mental or physical pain to punish or get information by someone in their control, which is a shortened version of the definition of torture under the United Nations Torture Convention. Those two take place on the West Bank during the intifada and carried out by members of the IDF and on the south side of Chicago by Chic [...]


  • pg 25"A fourth pattern of torture is observable here: it arouses little protest as long as the definition of the torturable class is confined to the lower orders; the closer it gets to one's own door, the more objectionable it becomes."pg 34"Sleep deprivation falls into a category of torturers, seemingly more commonly used now than in the past, that are favored because they leave no marks on the victim. Depriving prisoners of sleep or food, forcing them to stand for long periods of time, confini [...]



  • 1. We don't torture and shame on you for saying it. 2. Ok, maybe we're a little rough, but it's not torture and it is for their own good. 3. It's their own fault they're here. 4. What we've done has provided invaluable information saving thousands of lives. No, we can't reveal any of that, of course. State security and all that. 5. And you who protest, maybe you should be next, since you are obviously vile enemies of the state. 6. Any, it's all in the past and no use bringing all those hard feel [...]


  • I read this book with a Chicago bias and think I would have enjoyed it more if that's not how I came into it. I really enjoyed the Chicago chapters, but found myself usually wanting to just get through the rest. Perhaps I should have found a more Chicago-specific book. Nonetheless, the writing is good, and the stories are interesting.The book bounces back and forth from chapter to chapter between discussing torture of person in Belfast, Israel, and Chicago. Conroy met with both torturers and vic [...]


  • I read this for a college class that examined the history, policy context and ethical connotations of torture. We read about 7 books and a myriad of articles, but this one by far made the biggest impression. I can honestly say that I would've read this book even if it hadn't been assigned; I gave it to my mom and she too is loving it. It is very well written; his profession shines through in the text, as (unlike many of the other readers) he makes it engaging, current, and achieves a great balan [...]


  • This book looks at torture both in U.S. and internationally by tracking three cases: the torture of 14 Irish men by the U.K. in Northern Ireland in 1971, the torture by beating of Palestinians near Nablus in 1988 by Israel, and the torture of criminal suspects in the 1970s and 1980s by the Chicago P.D. These become the entryways into how torture arises and is, generally, unchallenged in society. (We have only to look at the U.S. since 9/11.) The author looks into how ordinary people, who are not [...]


  • Tremendous. Pulls no punches in laying blame, but that blame, responsibility is vastly more complex and muddy that I could have imagined.Speaks to how anyone can be complicit in acts of torture, but also shows how these same aspects of the human psyche can mean almost anyone can be complicity in other terrible acts, such as genocide. Even tries to get at what kind of person might be less likely to participate in torture or genocide, though I would have liked a deeper exploration of that.A distur [...]


  • It seems wrong to say Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People is a "good book" - it is an amazing piece of journalism. John Conroy focuses on torture in the countries, Northern Ireland, Israel and the Chicago Police abuse scandal in the United States. Without passing judgement he looks at how countries define torture (or refuse to define behavior as torture)and in some cases he is able to interview the torturers. He doesn't allow the reader to feel that torture is something done by other people in oth [...]


  • Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People is a riveting book that exposes the potential in each of us for acting unspeakably. John Conroy sits down with torturers from several nations and comes to understand their motivations. His compelling narrative has the tension of a novel. He takes us into a Chicago police station, two villages in the West Bank, and a secret British interrogation center in Northern Ireland, and in the process we are exposed to the experience of the victim, the rationalizations of [...]


  • A gripping read. I started it 5 days ago. It's a really intense look at 3 case studies of torture from within "developed" countries: Britain, Israel, and the United States. The author is a great writer and within the first couple pages of the book I was hooked. His analysis is interesting as are the case studies. He does a good job of portraying both the complexity of the issue and the simplicity. He talks to both victims and torturers and looks at a wide variety of sources to tell his story abo [...]


  • Perhaps this speaks more to my inability to sustain attention for long periods of time, but I would've preferred slightly less depth on the three cases of torture, and more cases touched on. My favourite chapters, though, were the general ones, hearing from torturers, hearing from victims. But these are just personal preferences, and definitely not criticisms on the book, which was an incredible, and alarming, piece of journalism.


  • I had to read a few chapters for a class and found that I ended up reading the entire book. the title really speaks for itself. I found it very interesting to read about ordinary people placed in stressful situations and how they took on specific roles. Just as a heads up it is a little graphic when describing the methods of torture.


  • reading this book, i realized there should be a separate rating for 'enjoyment.' i liked the book; i did not enjoy it. this is a timely and important subject, and the unspeakable acts are just that. the book left me overwhelmed by the human capacity for cruelty.


  • For all those people who think they could never be unspeakably cruel to another this is an eye opening look at how is it is torture. It has become especially important in light of the current political climate.




  • A little lengthy in parts but overall a well-rounded picture of the double-victimization of the tortured (once by their perpetrators and again by shortcomings of governmental systems)


  • Makes you appreciate the dumb luck you were born into - these stories of ordinary people being tortured (and torturing others) is incredible.






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