Monday, June 15, 2009


Today's Boston Globe has a great review of Brian MacQuarrie's new book The Ride, which tells the story of MVFHR member Bob Curley. We'll be posting a couple of excerpts from the book soon, but in the meantime, here is an excerpt from the review by Chuck Leddy:

Bob Curley would become an outspoken advocate for capital punishment in Massachusetts. About his son's killers, he'd tell one television interviewer, "Let's go get them and put the hurt on them. Until people are willing to make a stand, it's just gonna keep going on and on." MacQuarrie offers a detailed account of the passionately fought legislative battle over establishing the death penalty. Just when it looked like the pro-death-penalty position had won, one legislator (Representative John Slattery) switched sides and voted against the measure, defeating it.

MacQuarrie describes how deeply involved Bob Curley would become in the battle, as he lobbied legislators face-to-face and even verbally attacked a few opposing State House demonstrators. Upon seeing one man with a sign opposing the death penalty, writes MacQuarrie, Curley "began screaming uncontrollably."

Although Bob Curley and his family would commit themselves to passing the death penalty in Massachusetts, they were psychologically devastated by Jeffrey's death. MacQuarrie gives us a visceral account of how this trauma affected the Curleys, especially Bob.

MacQuarrie writes of how Bob Curley's encounter with a man named Bud Welch triggered a long process of soul-searching about the death penalty. Welch's daughter had been killed in the Oklahoma City bombing committed by Timothy McVeigh, yet Welch opposed the execution of McVeigh, and the death penalty. "I always thought that if you were against the death penalty, you were a wimp," recounted Curley, but clearly Welch was no wimp. Despite his own experiences, Curley would gradually change his views on the death penalty.

MacQuarrie's account, besides explaining the impact of a terrible crime on a family and a community, also describes how it transformed a single man. It's clear from MacQuarrie's account that Bob Curley's rage could have easily destroyed him (or possibly led him to destroy others), but the book's biggest revelation is how Curley got beyond the hate to discover something positive in himself and in others. "The Ride" is a fascinating story of loss, profound anger, pain, and the difficult, soul-searching aftermath of trauma.

No comments: