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The White House Boys: An American Tragedy

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Hidden far from sight, deep in the thick underbrush of the North Florida woods are the ghostly graves of more than thirty unidentified bodies, some of which are thought to be children who were beaten to death at the old Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna. It is suspected that many more bodies will be found in the fields and swamplands surrounding the institutio Hidden far from sight, deep in the thick underbrush of the North Florida woods are the ghostly graves of more than thirty unidentified bodies, some of which are thought to be children who were beaten to death at the old Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna. It is suspected that many more bodies will be found in the fields and swamplands surrounding the institution. Investigations into the unmarked graves have compelled many grown men to come forward and share their stories of the abuses they endured and the atrocities they witnessed in the 1950s and 1960s at the institution.      The White House Boys: An American Tragedy is the true story of the horrors recalled by Roger Dean Kiser, one of the boys incarcerated at the facility in the late fifties for the crime of being a confused, unwanted, and wayward child. In a style reminiscent of the works of Mark Twain, Kiser recollects the horrifying verbal, sexual, and physical abuse he and other innocent young boys endured at the hands of their "caretakers." Questions remain unanswered and theories abound, but Roger and the other 'White House Boys' are determined to learn the truth and see justice served.


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Hidden far from sight, deep in the thick underbrush of the North Florida woods are the ghostly graves of more than thirty unidentified bodies, some of which are thought to be children who were beaten to death at the old Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna. It is suspected that many more bodies will be found in the fields and swamplands surrounding the institutio Hidden far from sight, deep in the thick underbrush of the North Florida woods are the ghostly graves of more than thirty unidentified bodies, some of which are thought to be children who were beaten to death at the old Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna. It is suspected that many more bodies will be found in the fields and swamplands surrounding the institution. Investigations into the unmarked graves have compelled many grown men to come forward and share their stories of the abuses they endured and the atrocities they witnessed in the 1950s and 1960s at the institution.      The White House Boys: An American Tragedy is the true story of the horrors recalled by Roger Dean Kiser, one of the boys incarcerated at the facility in the late fifties for the crime of being a confused, unwanted, and wayward child. In a style reminiscent of the works of Mark Twain, Kiser recollects the horrifying verbal, sexual, and physical abuse he and other innocent young boys endured at the hands of their "caretakers." Questions remain unanswered and theories abound, but Roger and the other 'White House Boys' are determined to learn the truth and see justice served.

30 review for The White House Boys: An American Tragedy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This book is significant, not only because I can say I am one of the "White House Boys", but because the horrors that those young boys endured were indeed painful that many of them were deeply affected by their abuse. Though I remember going "down" four times to the "White House" during my incarceration from the period 1965 through 1967, I was not as affected by this punishment. As I read the story those memories came back to me that this book did not tell. My hope is that those in the grave yar This book is significant, not only because I can say I am one of the "White House Boys", but because the horrors that those young boys endured were indeed painful that many of them were deeply affected by their abuse. Though I remember going "down" four times to the "White House" during my incarceration from the period 1965 through 1967, I was not as affected by this punishment. As I read the story those memories came back to me that this book did not tell. My hope is that those in the grave yard in unmarked graves will have justice if abuse or atrocities were the cause of their death.

  2. 5 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is a memoir Colson Whitehead recommended in The Nickel Boys epilogue. Roger Dean Kiser had a very tumultuous upbringing which eventually landed him at the Florida Industrial School for Boys AKA Dozier School (the real-life “Nickel Academy”). You’ll notice glimpses of Kiser’s story in Whitehead’s novel. Kiser describes his experiences there as a young white boy. I’m not going to lie, this is brutal. tw: extreme physical abuse, rape

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa Saucier

    Like a few other reviewers, part of me felt somewhat guilty for giving it only two stars. Kiser was indeed extremely brave for coming forward with his stories. They are incredibly gut-wrenching, and it is absolutely appalling to consider the fact that Kiser was not alone in his experiences, especially now that news is surfacing about even more murders than originally thought. That being said, because this is a book review I must deviate from the emotional aspects of the book and discuss the writi Like a few other reviewers, part of me felt somewhat guilty for giving it only two stars. Kiser was indeed extremely brave for coming forward with his stories. They are incredibly gut-wrenching, and it is absolutely appalling to consider the fact that Kiser was not alone in his experiences, especially now that news is surfacing about even more murders than originally thought. That being said, because this is a book review I must deviate from the emotional aspects of the book and discuss the writing itself. The stories, though powerful, did not really seem to flow together. Instead, we are given short little anecdotes, which may or may not correspond to anything else in the book. Generally, the authors who create bonds between their characters and their readers are the ones who appeal to me. Unfortunately, though I did feel sympathy and compassion for Kiser, I did not come away from the book really feeling like I had gotten to "know" him. In a sense, the book read a bit more like a confessional, "this is part of my grieving process" type of narrative. While there is nothing wrong with such a piece of writing, it was simply not what I expected. The appendix provided some interesting information regarding the case against the institution itself, and the growing attention it has been getting over the years. In a way, I found these portions of the book to be more in line with my expectations.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I don’t feel like I can give this book a rating when it’s a memoir of the abuse the author had to endure. I originally heard about this book from a podcast about the White House boys and the horrific things that happened at the Florida Industrial School for Boys. This book is gut wrenching and terribly sad. Unfortunately I think it needs a lot of help with editing and could have included a lot more information.

  5. 5 out of 5

    MrsPyramidhead

    Unfortunately I was disappointed by this book. It was a very quick read. I wish it had been ghost written by someone or that the author has assistance in putting the book together to give the reader more information and a more fluid reading experience. The story told us important but I didn't like how it was presented. I also found the section at the beginning that wasn't written by the author annoying and poorly written/out together. It also bothered me that a picture of the author at 13 includ Unfortunately I was disappointed by this book. It was a very quick read. I wish it had been ghost written by someone or that the author has assistance in putting the book together to give the reader more information and a more fluid reading experience. The story told us important but I didn't like how it was presented. I also found the section at the beginning that wasn't written by the author annoying and poorly written/out together. It also bothered me that a picture of the author at 13 included in the book was clearly Photoshoped with blotches. Don't give me nonfiction then alter an image. Also the pictures included were mostly to dark to get anything from. I realized I have another book about this Boys home so I will read that next maybe it will be better put together. It's called The Boys of the Dark if you read this review and are interested. In conclusion this is worth a read it the subject interests you but there may be better sources on the subject.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Just finished this book and was shocked how horrid humans treat others and not let is bother them. The horror that these young children suffered at the hands of adults. The author tells us of the beatings and abuse that he suffered and other young children while staying in this facility as youth. It is a miracle that he is alive today to tell this story when many children lost their lives and innocence at the hand of these adult that where suppose to teach then how to live a good live in the outsi Just finished this book and was shocked how horrid humans treat others and not let is bother them. The horror that these young children suffered at the hands of adults. The author tells us of the beatings and abuse that he suffered and other young children while staying in this facility as youth. It is a miracle that he is alive today to tell this story when many children lost their lives and innocence at the hand of these adult that where suppose to teach then how to live a good live in the outside world. The book shows us how even something that was meant for good can go horribly wrong when one turns a blind eye to things they don't want to see or know about. This book is worth reading, but be prepared to be upset by what you read. You will brought to tears and your heart will break for these children.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Davis

    This book was really great. First of all, I loved the simplicity with which Roger writes and he just comes off as a likeable person. The story was very rich and intriguing in a horrible way, but also effectively emphasized how some people can endure the most challenging situations. Some have criticized this book for making jumps chapter to chapter without having clear connections between each one, but then again, isn't this what you would expect from a historical account? Memory isn't perfect an This book was really great. First of all, I loved the simplicity with which Roger writes and he just comes off as a likeable person. The story was very rich and intriguing in a horrible way, but also effectively emphasized how some people can endure the most challenging situations. Some have criticized this book for making jumps chapter to chapter without having clear connections between each one, but then again, isn't this what you would expect from a historical account? Memory isn't perfect and it would make me very skeptical if at every turn of the page Roger was able to put a time and date to each event in the book. I guess in this regard, reading the book felt a lot like talking to the author as he recalls some of the most memorable days during his childhood rather than a rigorous documentation of history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    I just finished this book, and was horrified and shocked by the degree of abuse that occurred to these boys, and what a tragedy it was to lose their childhood and innocence in such a brutal manner. It is hard to believe that someone could survive such beatings, but there were a few who lived to tell about it. I can only hope those who suffered will find some kind of peace through God and heaven where there will be no such beatings, and that those who inflicted those unconscionable acts will burn I just finished this book, and was horrified and shocked by the degree of abuse that occurred to these boys, and what a tragedy it was to lose their childhood and innocence in such a brutal manner. It is hard to believe that someone could survive such beatings, but there were a few who lived to tell about it. I can only hope those who suffered will find some kind of peace through God and heaven where there will be no such beatings, and that those who inflicted those unconscionable acts will burn in hell for their crimes. Towards the end of the book, there was some repetition of facts that should have not occurred, but on the whole, the book was a good fast read. It is, without a doubt, the worst case of child abuse I have ever read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    You know how some books have a relevant quote before the first page? This author quoted himself. This was followed by a prologue, then a foreword, something I've never seen done before. It's clear the author isn't from the world of publishing, but he wanted his story to be known. Part one was difficult to stomach, knowing that state-sanctioned torture, rape, and murder of children had occurred so close to where I live. But it is an important history to be told, so that such things are not allowed You know how some books have a relevant quote before the first page? This author quoted himself. This was followed by a prologue, then a foreword, something I've never seen done before. It's clear the author isn't from the world of publishing, but he wanted his story to be known. Part one was difficult to stomach, knowing that state-sanctioned torture, rape, and murder of children had occurred so close to where I live. But it is an important history to be told, so that such things are not allowed to occur again. Part two felt like I was a fly on the wall in a therapy session- the author was mostly talking to himself. I don't begrudge Kiser needing to get these stories out, and I don't regret learning about them. Unfortunately the book itself just wasn't a great read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Carlisle

    Heart Wrenching, A Must Read Roger Kiser offers a compelling look into the heart of a world filled with abuse and negect, in which children are treated less than in all respects. The environment that facilitated such horrible treatment was none other than a state-backed children's reform home, and thankfully the government has actually admitted wrongdoings with the embrace of the 21st century. The podcast entitled Sword and Scale originally introduced me to the subject matter lining the pages of " Heart Wrenching, A Must Read Roger Kiser offers a compelling look into the heart of a world filled with abuse and negect, in which children are treated less than in all respects. The environment that facilitated such horrible treatment was none other than a state-backed children's reform home, and thankfully the government has actually admitted wrongdoings with the embrace of the 21st century. The podcast entitled Sword and Scale originally introduced me to the subject matter lining the pages of "The White House Boys: An American Tragedy," and I'm thankful that I looked further into the material.

  11. 4 out of 5

    walter

    I found this in a stack of books my aunt gave me about Florida history. Short and in large typeface, it seemed like a way to get momentum into the rest of the stack. It did not go smoothly. This account of child abuse in a North Florida school is coarsely written, but in a way that befits the subject. At times I was upset at the described events, and other times I was upset by how unsurprising the abuse was, then I was upset about wanting to be more upset as if these children's abuse was my ente I found this in a stack of books my aunt gave me about Florida history. Short and in large typeface, it seemed like a way to get momentum into the rest of the stack. It did not go smoothly. This account of child abuse in a North Florida school is coarsely written, but in a way that befits the subject. At times I was upset at the described events, and other times I was upset by how unsurprising the abuse was, then I was upset about wanting to be more upset as if these children's abuse was my entertainment. The book is split into two sections: the first is primarily a direct account of Kiser's experiences. The second half includes articles and poems and abbreviated thoughts. While some of the stories stretched credulity and obviously required a little liberty, bringing in the state's own admittance and other victims was the best way to end.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Destiny

    The podcast Sword and Scale is were I first learned about The White House Boys: An American Tragedy. Dean Kiser may not be a writer but he has a story to tell. A heart breaking story.... The horror that these young children suffered is relentless and evil. Its overwhelming to know state-sanctioned torture, rape, and murder of children had occurred right here is so disheartening... It is apart of Florida's history. Don't read this with the expectation of finding literary greatness... Read this wi The podcast Sword and Scale is were I first learned about The White House Boys: An American Tragedy. Dean Kiser may not be a writer but he has a story to tell. A heart breaking story.... The horror that these young children suffered is relentless and evil. Its overwhelming to know state-sanctioned torture, rape, and murder of children had occurred right here is so disheartening... It is apart of Florida's history. Don't read this with the expectation of finding literary greatness... Read this with the purpose of bringing attention to the fact that today, so many years later, there remains more than 30 forgotten graves in the North Florida woods—the graves are marked only by crosses—no names, no dates—only forgotten children. Those forgotten children are somebody's babies.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    This is an incredible story that I feel the writer barely even scratches the surface of. My mind would never be able to truly comprehend what his life and this place must have been like. I read this book because I feel the story needs to be honored. The lives of those boys all meed to be honored. Many reviews comment on the way the book was written but I think many fail to put into play this man's life and how is educational upbringing was not similar to the many other authors one may typically This is an incredible story that I feel the writer barely even scratches the surface of. My mind would never be able to truly comprehend what his life and this place must have been like. I read this book because I feel the story needs to be honored. The lives of those boys all meed to be honored. Many reviews comment on the way the book was written but I think many fail to put into play this man's life and how is educational upbringing was not similar to the many other authors one may typically read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Konarski

    Gripping! Hard to put down I bought this book after reading several stories about the abuse taken place at the Alfred G. Dozier school for boys when the graves were found at the school. I found myself trapped in the stories. The author, was mentioned in a lot of the findings online. So, I had to buy the book to finish out his story. I don't read books, however I couldn't put this down. Mr. Kiser's experiences put me right there to visualize what him and all the other boys went through. Great read Gripping! Hard to put down I bought this book after reading several stories about the abuse taken place at the Alfred G. Dozier school for boys when the graves were found at the school. I found myself trapped in the stories. The author, was mentioned in a lot of the findings online. So, I had to buy the book to finish out his story. I don't read books, however I couldn't put this down. Mr. Kiser's experiences put me right there to visualize what him and all the other boys went through. Great read, I highly recommend this book. The stories are heart wrenching.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn

    A very informative and raw book that is easy to read but not easy to read. I picked up this book after reading A Child Called ‘It’ and the stories told in both leave me shaking my head in utter amazement and disgust. How can people treat children like this?! My take away from this book: Abuse can be anywhere and it can be easily hidden. We must all be watchers and step forward if we see something.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Redmond

    A podcast, Sword and Scale, introduced me to this extremely horrific story. This book gives more of a brief overview of some of the experiences the author endured. This book is not for the faint of heart. Roger Kiser is truly remarkable to have overcome everything he went through and share these events. Much more detail is revealed on the podcast, but this book will definitely have you questioning how anyone could be so cruel and heartless to innocent, confused children.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Edie Reynolds

    I grew up in Florida and remember stories about boys who were sent to reform school. I knew one boy from school who was sent there and I don't remember ever seeing him again. I did not know how horrific this school was and what the "caretakers" did to them emotionally, physically and sexually. This story will break your heart. I grew up in Florida and remember stories about boys who were sent to reform school. I knew one boy from school who was sent there and I don't remember ever seeing him again. I did not know how horrific this school was and what the "caretakers" did to them emotionally, physically and sexually. This story will break your heart.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ruth E.

    It was absolutely awful to think that these boys were treated so abominably. I am glad he had the courage to tell what happened. I think the book got its point across, although it did seem like a collection of stories and articles rather than a smoothly written book. But kudos to Roger; it's pretty good for someone who was not provided with much when he was young. It was absolutely awful to think that these boys were treated so abominably. I am glad he had the courage to tell what happened. I think the book got its point across, although it did seem like a collection of stories and articles rather than a smoothly written book. But kudos to Roger; it's pretty good for someone who was not provided with much when he was young.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Mcgovern-Green

    This was sad. Knowing that these atrocities were carried out right here and for so many years is just awful. I am glad that Roger Dean Kiser could author this book and put his experience down on paper so that it brings awareness to all.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Insanity47

    Unbelievable How any human being (I use the term loosely) could do what they did to those boys is disgusting. A book that makes you question the people in charge. Glad those who survived have moved forward.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Holmes

    I’m giving this book 5 stars because I believe Roger deserves recognition for opening up to the world about the horrors he experienced. It takes a strong man to do what he did. He deserves a good review and all of the support he can handle. However, I would give the publisher 0 stars.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Flores

    It's sad that so much abuse goes on and so many children/people are damaged while in places that are supposed to be safe. It's sad that so much abuse goes on and so many children/people are damaged while in places that are supposed to be safe.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa O'Neill

    Heart wrenching A truly sad story that I can’t imagine being a true story for these boys. Well written...took me 2 hours because I couldn’t put it down.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rosie Capagli

    Tragic and heart wrenching Humans Vann be so cruel and this story is an example of how horrible we can be to each other, but, also it's a story of strength. Tragic and heart wrenching Humans Vann be so cruel and this story is an example of how horrible we can be to each other, but, also it's a story of strength.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Heartrending.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Diane Bates

    So hard to read this book because of the brutality of the adults towards the boys they were supposed to be helping. Roger and others are courageous to share their stories .

  27. 5 out of 5

    BunTheDestroyer

    What interested me in this book was because I heard a podcast on it before. But it is hard to read such tragedy. I hope they get justice

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    I only took this down one star because it was a rough read based on subject matter.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tara Griffin

    This book was heart wrenching. What incredible strength the survivors have to share their stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Costanza

    Such brave boys and such a horrific story.

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