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Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My…

Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully

by Allen Kurzweil

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"Whipping Boy" may not be a great book, but I'm glad that Allen Kurzweil wrote it. He seems pretty darn certain that he got something significant off his chest by doing so. As for the book itself, it's not the characters themselves but the surrounding weirdness that I found most interesting. The boarding school he and his bully attended seemed to mix a fetish for order and hierarchy with airy, specifically British ideas about the benefits of the great outdoors. "Whipping Boy" -- and the tireless research that went into it -- also gives you a chance to look at the business of fraud and fraud detection up close. Kurzweil's right when he claims that the scheme that his former bully got involved in was a really doozy: the principals dressed like the Sgt. Pepper's album cover and claimed dozens of titles and degrees. The most useful part of the book, and perhaps the creepiest, though, are the interviews that he conducts with his former bully near the end of the book. It's a portrait of a con man who trades on easy familiarity, bathes in self pity, petty resentment, and self-justification, and uses evasive language filled with new-economy and "spirituality" buzzwords. It's not revealing, but that's the point: his unremarkable blandness is what makes grown-up Cesar really unsettling. Whatever else he is, he's certainly a product of our modern environment. While Kurzweil writes well and the book does indeed go someplace, it rates as kind of light, in my opinion. I'm happy the author got what he wanted out of writing it, but otherwise can't really recommend as more than summer reading. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Jul 15, 2017 |
This was okay, not one of my favorite or even middle of the road likes. It's not great as an audiobook. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 11, 2016 |
Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil is a very highly recommended account of a man ostensibly searching for a bully. What he finds in his search is much more interesting and satisfying.

When Kurzweil was 10, he attended Aiglon College, a British-style boarding school located in the Swiss Alps, above Geneva. When there one of his roommates, Cesar Augustus, took delight in tormenting him. Kurzweil shares several incidents that traumatized him during this one year of his childhood and how the specter of Cesar loomed large in his adult life. He still remembered the verbal and physical torment Cesar put him through and his emotional pain was still present.

As an adult, Kurzweil decided to do some research to try and discover what happened to Cesar and what he did with his life. There was, also, always present the idea of payback, or confrontation of Cesar for what he did to Kurzweil.

What Kurzweil discovers is far more interesting than even he could have imagined. Cesar was part of a huge global banking scam that swindled millions of dollars from unsuspecting clients. It was run by the Badische Trust Consortium and Cesar was part of the group of scam artists, many posing as European aristocrats, who ran the con. Several members, including Cesar, had been imprisoned for their felonious deceit. "The consolidated rap sheet of the Badische gang included embezzlement, racketeering, arson, forgery, fraud, extortion, perjury, check kiting, probation violation, grand larceny, assault and battery, and domestic abuse."

In the end this is less a book about searching for Cesar, the bully, and more the story of researching Cesar and the members of the Badische Trust Consortium. There is a satisfying meeting/discussion with Cesar. Kurzweil ends with an enlightening revelation/discovery about freeing himself from the memories of his bully.

This well written, detailed account, while partially a memoir, is most certainly an engaging true crime thriller as Kurzweil researches the Badische scam artists and their crimes through the court records, etc. he is given access to use in his search. Even though his research began as a search for his bully, he found a much more interesting story in which Cesar is a bit player. Yes, he is a scam artist, but he is not the most interesting character in the search. I found myself hoping he would be able to find and confront his bully, but what Kurzweil discovers is so much more and made for a fascinating, intriguing nonfiction account of his search. Whipping Boy includes 16 pages of black-and-white photos and 83 images.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollin for review purposes.

New Yorker Article
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/17/whipping-boy ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Narrated by the author. Ten-year-old Allen Kurzweil was so tormented by his 12-boarding school roommate that it scarred him for life. As an adult he spends years trapped in a "prison of vengeance," tracking down whatever happened to Cesar Augustus. Initially I wanted to say Dude, get over it, and I worried that his obsession would impact his wife and son. But what he discovers about the adult Cesar becomes a compelling story of international fraud. A vicarious read for those similarly abused by childhood nemeses. The author's reading of his work is peppered with odd pauses that become more pronounced later in the book but aside from that, I was along for the ride. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
The premise of this book is intriguing: a man who goes in search of the boy who bullied him in childhood.
The result, unfortunately, is a dreary, self-indulgent book that I could barely drag myself through.
The beginning is good. But then the childhood part, which has left the author, Allen Kurzweil,so damaged he's consumed for decades, ends quickly and does little to impress the reader that what Kurzweil endured was so horrific. Absolutely, Cesar (his bully) was obnoxious, mean, cruel. But I'm still unclear as to why Kurzweil became obsessed with learning his fate.
Then came the chapter about Kurzweil's family; lots of conversations here with his young son that were of no interest. And I wearied of Kurzweil often talking about being Jewish, then focusing on his family's Christmas celebrations.
Then pages and pages of a supposedly fascinating collection of oddballs - including Cesar - involved in fraud.
And finally, FINALLY, Kurzweil meets up with Cesar for mostly mundane conversation and then (spoiler alert) Cesar apologizes, though apparently he doesn't remember what it was that he ever did.
Perhaps this could have worked as a magazine article, but probably not. It simply was not interesting. ( )
  Eliz12 | Mar 7, 2015 |
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In memory of my father, for the things he invented.

With gratitude to my mother, for the things she preserved
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My youthful innocence suffered an injury.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062269488, Hardcover)

Equal parts investigative memoir, crime procedural, and revenge thriller, Whipping Boy chronicles the author’s real-life search for the childhood nemesis who has haunted his life for over forty years.

Abused as a ten-year-old at a prestigious English boarding school nestled in the Swiss Alps, Allen Kurzweil, author of the acclaimed bestseller A Case of Curiosities, takes the reader around the world—from the Vienna Woods to the slums of Manila to the boardroom of the world's largest law firm high above New York City—to locate and confront his long-lost tormentor, a twelve-year-old named Cesar Augustus (who tied him up and whipped him to the strains of “Jesus Christ Superstar”).

What begins as an anxiety-fueled quest for revenge takes an elaborate detour when the author discovers that Cesar has recently been released from federal prison for his role in a byzantine scheme perpetrated by a felonious duke, a Congolese king, a fugitive prince who traces his roots back to Vlad the Impaler, and a spats-wearing baron born in Toledo, Ohio.

You can’t make this stuff up (unless you’re a world-class swindler). By chance, Kurzweil finds himself privy to the voluminous files of the federal prosecutor who brought Cesar to justice, and a journalist’s curiosity clashes with a victim’s fear of facing down his old nemesis.

A scrupulously researched work of non-fiction that reads like a John Le Carré novel, Whipping Boy is more than a tale of karmic retribution. It is a heartfelt and darkly comic meditation on forgetfulness and memory, trauma and recovery, born of suffering and nourished by obsession, and resolved in a final act of courage.

Whipping Boy includes 16 pages of black-and-white photographs and 91 images throughout.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:09 -0400)

"From the acclaimed author of A CASE OF CURIOSITIES, Allen Kurzweil's stranger-than-fiction "investigative memoir", detailing his 40-year-search for his boarding school bully who tied him up at the age of twelve and whipped him to the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar, and who went on to lead a mad-cap life of international crime and financial fraud"--… (more)

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