Start Omhoog

[Back to: Books, General]

Two Book Reviews of:

Conversations with a Pedophile

Dr. Amy Hammel-Zabin

Psychology/Criminology May [2003]
$21.95 Cloth 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 ISBN: 1-56980-247-5 Rights: World


Conversations With a Pedophile is a landmark book. It is the first time the uncensored voice of a pedophile will be heard.

Amy Hammel-Zabin met the man called "Alan" while working as a music therapist in the prison where he was incarcerated. She was the first therapist to whom he would actually respond. "Alan" opened up to her, confessing that he had sexually abused over 1100 boys.

Though he will spend the rest of his life in prison, Alan with Dr. Hammel-Zabins help, decided he wanted to make constructive amends.

This book contains a series of letters to the author in which "Alan" explains how the mind of a pedophile works. In an effort to help parents protect their children from predators such as himself, Alan carefully describes how he selected and preyed on his victims. He fortifies the reader on the ways to spot early warning alarms. He proves that the danger of pedophilia does not come from the stranger in the street offering gifts of candy. It's the nice boy next door, the distant relative, the sweet baby-sitter. It is also shown that our churches aren't safe havens. Nor are our schools or our Scout troops.

Throughout the book, Dr. Hammel-Zabin offers her expert analysis on "Alan's" letters. She is uniquely qualified because she is both a trained therapist and a victim of sexual abuse herself. Throughout, Zabin compares the motivation and perseverance of the abuser "Alan," with her story: that of the abused. Nothing like this has ever appeared in print before. It is a book of tremendous value to all parents and child caregivers.

AMY HAMMEL-ZABIN is currently a practicing music therapist and a graduate advisor for music therapy students at New York University. Her flute playing is featured on a CD that is currently ranked #5 in Europe. She lives in Greenwich, CT with her husband and two young children.


Conversations with a Pedophile

Kirkus Reviews: March 15, 2003

A convicted and now remorseful pedophile explains how he selected his victims, earned their parents confidence, and then manipulated the youngsters emotions to gain control over them.

In the late 1980s, Hammel-Zabin, a music therapist working inside a maximum-security prison, came to know the pedophile identified here only as "Alan." Then in his late 50s, Alan was serving multiple life sentences for the sexual abuse of young boys.

Hammel-Zabin had been sexually abused as a child by her father and grandfather, leading her to reflect on the points of view of both the perpetrator and the victim.

Chapters labeled "Alan" contain material gleaned from some ten years of his correspondence and conversations with the author; those labeled "Amy" contain her reflections on his words as well as her own incest story, which regrettably adds little to our understanding of that phenomenon.

The texts most compelling and disturbing portions by far are Alans descriptions of his development as a pedophile and of his methods. The fantasies that engaged him from a very early age gradually escalated into obsessions that he acted out. At 14, he used the Boy Scouts as a way to hang around 10- and 11- year-olds without arousing suspicion, and as an adult he involved himself in church activities and scouting as a safe cover for his activities.

He describes how he became his victims confidante and how he ensured that they would not tell on him, even when the abuse reached horrendous levels.

This is the stuff of parents nightmares, but Hammel-Zabin argues that only by understanding pedophilia can we protect out children from it. The final chapters discuss what parents can do to ensure that their children do not become vulnerable to those who would prey on them. The more difficult question of what can be done about the predators remains unanswered here.

The veracity of these revelations must be taken on faith, but still, they have the ring of very scary truth.

[Back to: Books, General]

Start Omhoog