Thursday, 15 May 2014

'An Important Story, Poorly Written' on Amazon

This review is from: Smile For The Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith (Hardcover)
It is important to say, first-off, that the authors have performed a major service in investigating and publishing the activities of Cyril Smith. It is a story that needed to be told. As someone who lived in children's homes in the 1960s and 1970s, I always welcome exposure of the exploitation and abuse that often went on in such environments. 

That said, like another reviewer (see 'Amazon:  A Lightweight Potboiler' post below by Rufus on 2nd May), I was disappointed by the poor quality of the book itself. The account of Smith's doings rings true, partly because of the weight and credibility of the various sources used, and I think the independent evidence is convincing, However, the writing is often slipshod, the narrative repetitive and the methodology careless. A major piece of investigative journalism requires more rigour than this. Even the frequent use of artistic licence (to take just one example, no one remembers verbatim conversations decades later) is never justified or explained. One gets the impression of this being written in a rush.

These qualifications are important. However, I don't want to detract from warmly welcoming the book. I'm grateful for it and will be encouraging others to read it. I still want to commend the authors for that they have done.

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