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Which Side Are You on?

James O'Leary lives in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The best books I read this year were all nonfiction but such compelling page-turners I read them straight through as if they were by Elmore Leonard or Mary Higgins Clark.

They are: By Silence Betrayed, by John Crewdson (Little, Brown and Co., $17.95); Which Side Are You On?, by Thomas Geoghegan (Penguin, $11).

Before I read By Silence Betrayed, I thought I was an expert on childhood sexual abuse since I work as a specialist in Child Protective Services for the state of Texas. From Crewdson, I found out there are no experts but that the problem is much worse than even I thought. Crewdson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who gives us exhaustive research along with the usual horrific stories.

Unlike Jason Berry's good book on priest child molesters, The Betrayal of Innocence, Crewdson does not speculate on the causes of childhood sexual abuse but gives us plenty to think about. Haunting. He gives us the clearest picture we are going to get of sexual abuse in America and the grim future we all have to face if we continue to deny how frequent and how devastating such abuse is. Crewdson thinks it is America's No. 1 problem and an epidemic that is out of control.

Which Side Are You On? takes its title from an old labor union. If there is a better Catholic writer around than Thomas Geoghegan, I want to know immediately. Maybe Tim Unsworth, but Tim doesn't work as a labor lawyer and can't write about "trying to be for labor when it's flat on its back," Geoghegan's subtitle I like to think though, that Unsworth and Geoghegan may know each other well enough to share a beer and a laugh in a South Side Chicago bar. Chicago is their beloved city of choice and the Catholic church is their religion of choice. Both men will tell you Chicago is still alive and so, too is the Chicago church, dark days or not.

Geoghegan says, "Mother Teresa has even sent nuns over from India to work on the West Side of Chicago. When she came here, she said Chicago was worse than anything she had seen in India."
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Author:O'Leary, James
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 19, 1993
Previous Article:By Silence Betrayed.
Next Article:The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861-1986.

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