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A Book of American Martyrs: A Novel by Joyce…
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A Book of American Martyrs: A Novel

by Joyce Carol Oates

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I liked the ending. It was an interesting read. ( )
  CSKteach | Jul 20, 2018 |
I really liked the first 500 pages. Following Luther Dumphy as he grows up, becomes evangelical and radicalized, and ultimately kills a man was interesting. The life of Gus Voorhees and subsequently the fallout his death had on his children was also very well written and interesting. I didn’t think the book needed the New York parts or the boxing storyline, they felt clunky and like an add on. The last chapter also did not vibe with me at all, it was too forced and seemed like a push on Oats part. Still I would recommend reading it. ( )
  SadieRuin | Apr 20, 2018 |
What’s the difference between a martyr and a murderer? Luther Dunphy is a lay minister, outspoken member of Operation Rescue and strident anti-abortionist. Dr. Augustus Voorhees is a doctor who shunned his father’s lucrative private practice to instead dedicate himself to providing abortion services in rural, under-siege clinics. In mid 1990’s Ohio Luther stalks and then murders Dr. Voorhees and an escort outside of an abortion clinic.
Luther Dunphy and Dr. Augustus Voorhees are mirror images of each other. Both totally committed to their causes and convinced that they are the ones really helping the helpless, but fairly blind to the stress their convictions place on their families. The author paints a complicated portrait of each man, showing not just their convictions but their flaws. Luther was a high school bully and drop out, who could seem delusional at times. He wasn’t successful as a lay minister and in fact cheated on his wife multiple times while attending divinity courses. Augustus so believed in the righteousness of his work that his wife’s career ended up being submerged in his own. His constant moving to support rural, struggling clinics meant regular uprooting for his young children, who never really felt that they had a stable home life. Both men surrounded themselves with friends and associates who reinforced the righteousness of their work and neither seemed to give much consideration as to the consequences their actions had on their families.
After the murder the author lingers on the effects of such a brutal crime has on the respective wives and children of these two men. Particularly in the face of two lengthy criminal trials. Ultimately the book narrows its focus to one of the daughters of each of these men. Naomi Voorhees is a fledgling documentary film maker. She tries to use her craft to understand the father she hardly new. This leads her to Dawn Dunphy, who becomes a professional boxer. It’s a fascinating study on how people deal with sudden tragedy, fame (infamy) and meaning from such profound grief. ( )
  queencersei | Mar 22, 2018 |
Two families are as far apart on the abortion issue as is possible. In one family, a doctor-Dad who performs abortions in high-exposure clinics and a lawyer-Mom who focuses on reproductive rights. In the other family, a husband and wife who are on the far right, going to right-to-life rallies and picketing abortion clinics. Following an auto accident that leaves the second family's Down's Syndrome child dead, the father assassinates the doctor and his body guard one fateful morning in front of the abortion clinic. As trials drone on, as appeals are filed, as the death penalty is brought to bear, both families are left in the messy aftermath. Well-argued from both sides of the issue, The Great JCO does not disappoint. Astonishing. ( )
  OneMorePage | Jul 25, 2017 |
"What terrorism means—the end of grief. The wound is just too great. One limb you might mourn, but all of your limbs torn from you—it is just too much."

A Book of American Martyrs is astonishing. This is a painful, difficult book; Oates' subject matter provocative, her characters so incredibly poignant and uncomfortable. I'll admit I was beginning to sour on this story by the last 150 pages of this 750-page beast, but then Oates knocked me on my ass with that ending.

A family saga, A Book of American Martyrs follows two families over the course of nearly twenty years. The story weaves itself throughout both the Dunphy and the Vorhees clans, following the murder of abortion provider Augustus Voorhees by zealous Evangelical Luther Dunphy, but the narrative most closely follows the experiences of Dawn and Naomi, the daughters of Luther and Gus, respectively.

Oates' latest is a monumental portrait of tragedy, grief, violence, and family dynamics. A Book of American Martyrs offers a perspective on one of the most politically and emotionally charged topics in modern American culture and does so with unequivocal grace and empathy. ( )
  GennaC | May 5, 2017 |
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When evangelical Luther Dunphy assassinates abortion doctor Augustus Voorhees, the two grieving families find their lives intricately linked.

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