Whipping Boy: Book summary and reviews of Whipping Boy by Allen Kurzweil

Whipping Boy

The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully

by Allen Kurzweil

Whipping Boy by Allen Kurzweil X
Whipping Boy by Allen Kurzweil
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  • Published Jan 2015
    304 pages
    Genre: True Crime

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Book Summary

The true account of one boy's lifelong search for his boarding-school bully.

Equal parts childhood memoir and literary thriller, Whipping Boy chronicles prize-winning author Allen Kurzweil's search for his twelve-year-old nemesis, a bully named Cesar Augustus. The obsessive inquiry, which spans some forty years, takes Kurzweil all over the world, from a Swiss boarding school (where he endures horrifying cruelty) to the slums of Manila, from the Park Avenue boardroom of the world's largest law firm to a federal prison camp in Southern California.

While hunting down his tormentor, Kurzweil encounters an improbable cast of characters that includes an elocution teacher with ill-fitting dentures, a gang of faux royal swindlers, a crime investigator "with paper in his blood," and a monocled grand master of the Knights of Malta. Yet for all its global exoticism and comic exuberance, Kurzweil's riveting account is, at its core, a heartfelt and suspenseful narrative about the "parallel lives" of a victim and his abuser.

A scrupulously researched work of nonfiction that renders a childhood menace into an unlikely muse, Whipping Boy is much more than a tale of karmic retribution; it is a poignant meditation on loss, memory, and mourning, a surreal odyssey born out of suffering, nourished by rancor, tempered by wit, and resolved, unexpectedly, in a breathtaking act of personal courage.

Whipping Boy features two 8-page black-and-white photo inserts and  83 images throughout.

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Book Awards

  • award image Edgar Awards, 2016

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Kurzweil crafts an entertaining, sharply reported picaresque centering on the colorful leaders of the scam, who bamboozled their marks by posing as monocled European aristocrats and produced a fake deed from the fictional King of Mombessa… A crime saga that's ripe with hilarious humbuggery." - Publishers Weekly

"Kurzweil does the delightfully unexpected: He morphs his story from a poignant memoir into a true-crime thriller." - NPR.org

"Whipping Boy is like nothing I've ever read, an investigative memoir that's honest, funny, sad, and edge-of-the-chair suspenseful. I loved it." - Dan Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

"Whipping Boy reads like a European version of American Hustle…Full of intrigue and suspense, the story follows the bizarre twists and turns of one man's journey to find and confront his childhood tormentor-ready-made for a film treatment." - Kirkus Reviews

"Whipping Boy is much more than the search for a bully. Kurzweil takes readers on a suspenseful and thrilling ride." - Bookish

"A fascinating, multi-pronged morality tale about victimhood, skewed perception and the liberation of facing your demons." - Washington Post

"A captivating hybrid of investigative journalism and memoir…Kurzweil is not simply settling a private score; he's standing up for anyone who has ever been bullied." - Chicago Tribune

"A memoir that reads like a thriller as the author circles the globe to find the man who made his boarding school days a living hell." - Tampa Bay Times

This information about Whipping Boy was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Allen Kurzweil Author Biography

The son of Viennese émigrés, novelist Allen Kurzweil was raised in Europe and the United States. Educated at Yale and the University of Rome, he worked for ten years as a freelance journalist in France, Italy, and Australia before settling in the United States and turning his attention to fiction.

His first novel, A Case of Curiosities, (Harcourt, 1992) the chronicle of an eighteenth-century mechanical genius, received international critical acclaim. Translated into twelve languages, it earned literary honors in England, Ireland, Italy, and France. The novel was reissued by Harvest Books in 2001.

Kurzweil's next novel, The Grand Complication (Hyperion/Theia Books 2001) redirected the author's love of invention to twentieth-century New York. As with the ...

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