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The State Boys Rebellion

The State Boys Rebellion by Michael D'Antonio

ISBN10: 0743245121
ISBN13: 978-0743245128
Author: Michael D'Antonio
Book title: The State Boys Rebellion
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Edition edition (April 20, 2004)
Language: English
Category: Americas
Size PDF: 1849 kb
Size ePub: 1801 kb
Size Fb2: 1477 kb
Rating: 4.1/5
Votes: 120
Pages: 320 pages

The State Boys Rebellion by Michael D'Antonio

An exposé of the mid-twentieth-century practice of identifying and institutionalizing children with low IQ scores recounts the story of a group of boys at the Fernald State School in Massachusetts who successfully fought for their freedom and reentered society only to discover that they had been experimented on in Cold War studies. 75,000 first printing.


An insightful read that includes how and why State Schools were developed and led to this story. During my own family research I discovered a relative who had been institutionalized and sterilized during the height of eugenics. Up until that discovery, I didn't really know what eugenics was about. This book uses the stories of the State Boys in MA to better explain such programs and why they were grossly unjust. Yet, D'Antonio does not write a finger-pointing or sensationalized book. Instead, he gives dignity to the stories of the State Boys and lets the remarkably compassionate and intelligent voice of Fred Boyer come through the book. If you are interested in the American history of institutions, ideas on what it means to be feeble-minded or the evolution of treatment. "The State Boys Rebellion" is a good read. My Kindle version had some superficial formatting typos, but they are easy to overlook (such as missing apostrophes for possessive nouns). A few places were redundant, but neither of these criticisms deter from the power of the story or the quality of the research upon which it is built.

A lifelong resident of the Boston area, I had always heard stories about this institution. When this book was highly recommended by a college student, I decided to read it. The atrocities that these brave people had to endure since childhood were difficult to read about, but what kept me reading was the strength of spirit and humanity of so many of these "boys". This is a sad part of American history, not just at Fernald, but throughout our country.
I finished the book feeling as if I know some of the people, and they are to be admired.

I had to read this book for a history class and I have to say it offered a nice break from the usual dense books that I have had to read in the past for classes. The book is written through the eyes of Freddy, a man who spent the majority of his youth living in Fernald, a state home, because he was classified as feebleminded. However, most of these boys would be deemed normal today, or at worst would be diagnosed with a learning disability. These children came from broken homes and had no parents who could advocate for them. State Boys Rebellion focuses on the children who were classified as feebleminded and did not belong in the school. State Boys Rebellion does a remarkable job providing the history of the Eugenics movement and life inside of a state home. For most of these men, Fernald had an everlasting impact on their lives, as they were not properly educated nor were they properly nurtured. I felt that the personal account of Freddy allowed me to a be a bit more sympathetic than I normally am with history books. What I found most interesting was the idea of Cold War testing being done on the children there. It left me wanting to dig deeper into Cold War testing and how many other people were victims of this.

This was the best and most well-written nonfiction book I have read to-date. This compelling and emotionally heartwrenching account of the effects of the eugenics movement brings to life a dark chapter in American history. It is shocking that such horrible practices occurred in this country. The accounts of the suffering of Fred Boyce and his fellow inmates puts a human face on the residual effects of bad science, fear, prejudice, and ignorance. Many school districts require the teaching of the Holocaust and Civil Rights Movement, and as well they should. I also feel that the eugenics movement and its legacy should also be taught, and Mr. D'Antonio's book would make a great resource at the high school level. The State Boys' Rebellion brings to light that which was hidden for far too long.

This is a great book both sad at times but other times I was laughing. It is very sad what they did to these kids and I learned a lot from this book. This was a great book and I would read it again!!!!

This book is a first hand depiction of what once occurred some years ago. It is not a work of fiction rather a look at how the system worked and just how flawed it was and in some respects still is.

A very informative book. What an unfair, uneducated system! I have three children on the Autism Spectrum and to know that the state could take my children away by force back then for not being good enough for society and be neglected and abuse in such a way is unspeakable. Glad this was written with actual patients input.

Interesting and tragic read about a dark part of our not distant history.