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The road out of hell : Sanford Clark and the…

The road out of hell : Sanford Clark and the true story of the Wineville… (2009)

by Anthony Flacco

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624191,731 (4.05)1
  1. 00
    Nothing is Strange with You by James Jeffrey Paul (juglicerr)
    juglicerr: These two books are about the same case: The Wineville Chicken Coop Murders. The Road out of Hell, was written with the assistance of Sanford Clark's family, especially his elder son, Jerry, and focuses on Clark's story during and after the crimes. Nothing is Strange with You focuses more on the trial and the Northcott - Clark family in general.… (more)

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I read this book quite some time ago so I don't remember if the writing or the story-telling was truly five-star-worthy, but the heroes were. One hero was young Sanford Clark who lived to tell the story. The other hero was the man who rescued him and, really, saved him, Loyal Kelley, the assistant district attorney for Los Angeles who prosecuted the case against Clark's uncle. Kelley determined that Clark was by no means any kind of willing participant in the crimes, and had him committed to a unique local facility which helped Clark recover from the depredations of his uncle.

This is well worth reading simply because, for once, all the good guys win. ( )
  Tonestaple | Jun 7, 2015 |
This is much more the story of Sanford Clark than it is the story of the Wineville murders - not only is it told almost entirely from Sanford's point of view, it's written in a novelistic style, full of (presumably) invented dialogue and all. Not usually my favorite treatment of true crime, but this was handled well enough that I finished it anyway. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Apr 19, 2014 |
I’ve always been a fan of true crime. I don’t review much of it, though, because there’s simply not much to say (in my opinion). I’ll try to find something to say, though. This story is the back-drop to the Angelina Jolie movie Changeling. It is believed that Gordon Stewart Northcott murdered or was somehow connected to the murder of Walter Collins, the child that is the focus of the movie Changeling.

The Changeling connection has little to do with why I read this book. I found the story behind the movie to be interesting, and so when Amazon.com recommended this book to me, I jumped on the chance to read it.

Sanford Clark’s story, as told by Anthony Flacco and Jerry Clark, was heartbreaking. Clark was raped repeatedly by Gordon Stewart Northcott. He was worked like a slave on Northcott’s property, and he was forced to bare witness to the countless and senseless murders of young boys at Northcott’s hands.

Clark’s tale was gripping and fascinating. Anthony Flacco and Jerry Clark did a commendable job of telling this horrific story with accuracy and compassion.

If you are a fan of true crime, I definitely recommend this book. ( )
  ReadingWithMartinis | Nov 17, 2011 |
I have never read a book like this in my life. When I finished, I wanted to crawl into a ball and sob but also wanted to throw up at the thought of everything that little boy had to suffer. I'm still shaken up by the book that my stomach is still churning several hours after finishing, but I wanted to write this review while my feelings were so raw.

Unfortunately, I had no idea what the Wineville murders were. My knowledge of them unfolded only as I kept turning the page. My horror at Sanford's story increased from page to page, and yet I kept reading. I wanted to make sure that he survived, to find out how he was found, and to make sure that devil incarnate burned in hell for what he did to those boys. The need to make sure Sanford was okay kept me reading long after I knew I should have stopped. I don't do horror stories, and this was that much more horrific because it is a true one.

Flacco does a tremendous job of presenting the story from Sanford's point of view. Visceral and haunting don't even begin to cover the adjectives to describe the book, while the emotions that run through the reader as Sanford struggles to assuage his guilt at the experiences his uncle forces him to have run the gamut from denial to horror and back again. The first-person narrative makes the story that much more powerful. Thankfully, just at the point where the reader cannot possibly take any more evil, Flacco transfers to a third-person narrative and describes Sanford's rescue and recovery. Such a hellish book ends on a note of hope that someone so abused that he feels guilty about what he was forced to do can lead a life of normalcy and become a well-beloved model citizen. Sanford's redemption proves that there is still good in the world even after the reader questions this very idea in the beginning.

I received this book as part of the BBAW giveaway from Sterling Publishing. I am glad I read it but I can't help but feel that I lost just a bit of my naivete at learning the full story of what went on in Wineville, California in the 1920s. It is a story that is going to haunt my dreams for a long time to come.
  jmchshannon | Dec 29, 2009 |
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In the Epilogue, Jerry Clark apologized to the family members of the victims on behalf of his father for Sanford Clark's unwilling participation in the crimes:

"His awareness of the pain that he took part in causing was something that followed him all his days. He lived a good life after all that, never getting into trouble, always helping others, because he never forgot about your family members. He never stopped wishing that he could have done something. He never forgave himslef, even though he really had nothing to forgive himself for.

I dedicate my father's story to you. It is the story of a victim who never for a single day forgot your family members. Nor shall I."
First words
Anthony Flacco's splendid book about the Wineville murders in the mid-1920s manages to be both chilling and uplifting. (Foreword by Dr. Michael Stone)
The events and characters in this book are real. (Preface by Anthony Flacco)
I had jusst turned seventeen when my father revealed his past to me, terrible in its guresome details. (Introduction by Jerry Clark)
Thirteen-year-old Sanford Clark felt his stomach lurch when he realized that his mother was really going to send him away.
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Jerry Clark is the elder son of Sanford Clark.
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From 1926 to 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott committed at least 20 murders on a chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. His nephew, Sanford Clark, held captive there from the age of 13 to 15, was the sole surviving victim of the killing spree. Here, crime writer Anthony Flacco--using never-before-heard information from Sanford's son Jerry Clark--tells the real story behind the case. Forced by Northcott to take part in the murders, Sanford carried tremendous guilt all his life. Yet despite his youth and the trauma, he was the star witness at Northcott's trial, leading to his execution. Perhaps the most shocking part of all is the extraordinarily ordinary life Clark went on to live as a decorated WWII vet, a devoted husband of 55 years, a loving father, and a productive citizen. Flacco shows how Sanford was able to detoxify himself from the evil he'd encountered and emerge intact.--From publisher description.… (more)

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