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The Stranger Beside Me – Book Review

“For Ted has gone through life terribly crippled, like a man who is deaf, or blind, or paralyzed.  Ted has no conscience. “Conscience doth make cowards of us all,” but conscience is what gives us our humanity, the factor that separates us from animals.  It allows us to love, to feel another’s pain, and to grow”. – Ann Rule, Author of The Stranger Beside Me.

I watched the Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix before reading this book, and I don’t consider myself one of his crazy fan girls that would have gone to his trials.  I am mostly just fascinated how a human being could have zero remorse, or any feelings whatsoever relating to all the innocent lives he took.

Aside from this book being about Ann Rule’s friendship with Theodore Robert Bundy,  it’s safe to say it has a lot of other important themes too. For example, the ability of trust and the importance of it, and how easily we as humans can be blindsided because of it.  Not only in relationships with people, but trust of a complete stranger. Additionally, she talks a lot about forgiveness and loyalty, especially through Ted’s point of view. And towards the end she discusses the death penalty (capital punishment), and how that was an important political issue during his trial in Florida.

She starts with a little bit of history about Ted’s childhood, adolescence, and his mother’s predicament, in that she had to give birth to Ted in a house for unmarried women (something along those lines).  His mother had to move away and pretend that Ted was her little brother, thanks to the judgmental society of the 1940’s. Anyway, he was considered an outsider, and not one of the ‘popular’ kids. As an adult he soon made up for what he lacked as an adolescent, and became handsome and charming.  He made friends easily and was actually a good listener and provided comfort, based on how Ann Rule described him. The point is, he became trustworthy, and I think he used this trait to his advantage, obviously! He had friends and family who trusted him, and he was easily trusted by strangers, to no fault of their own.

He also convinced his friends and lovers into somehow always forgiving him and made sure they stayed loyal to him despite his antics.  He did not have remorse for what he did, yet he was afraid of losing those close to him. Just don’t kill people! I don’t understand!  Okay, maybe he was crippled with the fact that he didn’t have a conscience, but still, c’mon Ted!  If he would have used his trustworthiness and loyalty traits and actually talked to someone about his ‘dark’ side, he could have gotten help! (These are things I’d say to him if he was in front of me, I hope he doesn’t haunt me!)

And I’m going to be completely honest, he got what was coming to him.  I remember doing a debate in my AP Government class in high school about Capital Punishment.  I can’t remember what my view was in high school, but I for sure would have been all for it had it been MY sister, or MY daughter, or MY friend, or MY mother, etc that was a victim of Ted Bundy.  If you take the lives of others that had a bright future ahead of them, someone who was someone else’s family or friend, and you have zero remorse, then GOODBYE FOREVER! I don’t care if you’re emotionally or psychologically crippled.  He could have gotten help early on, but decided to go on a different path, like Judge Cowart told him at the end.  I understand his mom’s plea during one of his court room sessions, but still, your son took away other parents’ beloved children, I’m really sorry Louise Bundy, Ted had to be punished for his terrible crimes!  Clearly I’m not Christian enough to forgive a person like him.

I don’t know what I would do if I had someone I knew that was close to me and ended up in this type of situation.  Ann Rule has a really big heart. She did her best to be his friend until nearly the end, and this mother fucker had the audacity to ask her for money for another ‘real classy lady’ named Carol Boone, his wife.  Ted, you lost your freedom because of YOU, stop crying about it and blaming others! Again, things I wish I could tell him.

Overall, I learned to seriously pepper spray a mother fucker first, and apologize later! And also, fuck politeness!  Thanks Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff for always reminding your listeners about this.

There’s more I want to say about this book. But I think I’d probably start to ramble. Even after so many years, Ann Rule never forgot about Ted. He was basically the main reason her career took off, which conflicted her in many ways. She sacrificed a lot of her time to aid the the future of criminal profiling.

I definitely recommend this book if you’re a true crime buff. And I recommend the Ted Bundy Tapes Netflix documentary as well!

What would you have done if Ted Bundy had been one of your ‘friends’?!

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This American Life Podcast – Episode 644 Reflection

On the days I do not take the train to work for one reason or the other I listen to podcasts.  Most of the time it’s My Favorite Murder with Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, which as I have mentioned in other posts, fuels my anxiety!  So when I need a little break from that, I either listen to SERIAL (currently on and off with Season 3,), Levar Burton Reads, or This American Life.

I started listening to This American Life a few years ago during the time I started listening to the first season of SERIAL with the story of Adnan Syed (which if you haven’t listened to it, you should!).  Anyway, the different stories on This American Life podcast that I have heard really get you thinking. The many stories and experiences that are shared on this podcast can range from things like a woman going out into the streets to confront men and their cat-calling, people talking about the crazy relationships they’ve been in, and how libraries can actually be a form of “The Room of Requirement” (if you don’t know that reference we can’t be friends! LOL – and also that episode [#664] made me cry at the end).  I haven’t listened to all the episodes, there are way too many! But the one I was listening to this morning was so good!

It’s call Random Acts of History, episode 644, which includes a story of some high school kids from Castlemont High in Oakland, CA and their experience learning about the Holocaust in the early 90’s – The Miseducation of Castlemont High. There was an incident where a group of students from this school got kicked out of a movie theater that ended up being in the media for quite a while, and ended up with Steven Spielberg visiting the high school! Give it a listen.

Overall, the full episode consists of people’s experiences and thoughts when they learn something about history that they never knew, or find shocking in some way or other.  I’m sure everyone has had a moment like this in their lives. I think that is why I’m so obsessed with historical fiction and non-fiction about the WWII era, because when I first learned about the holocaust in high school, and watched documentaries and what not, I was shocked that a person, a leader, could be so damn evil!  And I would question why God let the suffering of so many innocent people happen (I grew up Seventh Day Adventist, google it). As a teenager I really had no choice but to go to church or I would get the guilt trip from my mom later. And I remember bringing up this topic in my youth group class (me, who was always the super quiet girl, and still am) and asked the question of why did God let this happen?  I can’t remember exactly what the youth pastor told me, or what other people in church told me, but it had to do with “God’s plans”, and that these people were being punished because in the Bible, the Jews crucified Jesus and their people would suffer for many generations. This is the answer I had to be content with and accept. As an adult though, I still don’t really accept it.

Listening to this episode, I learned that there is a theory in which Jewish people owned slaves, and were part of slave trade. Which I thought to myself, “WTF, I didn’t know that!”.  Not that that in any way merits the way they were treated during the holocaust, but for sure it’s an interesting theory I was unaware of, and I say “theory” becase apparently this is a very controversial topic in the Jewish community.  Every time I read or watch something pertaining to the holocaust, Jewish history, and the Nazis, whether it is historical fiction or an actual documentary, I never once came upon the theory that at some point in history, Jews were involved in the enslavement of people.  Again, this is no way merits how they were treated, there were millions of innocent men, women, and children that lost their lives because of the asshole who was Hitler (aka Old School Voldemort). I know that human beings are not perfect. I am definitely not perfect in any way.  If you want to get biblical about it, we are all sinners, but we do not deserve to be treated inhumanely because we are different. Unless of course you’re a serial killer like Ted Bundy or Hitler (blog post on Ted coming soon!).

I quickly did a Google search and found an interesting article about the Jewish community and slave trade: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jews-and-the-african-slave-trade/

Definitely check it out if you have a Holocaust, WWII, Jewish history obsession like me.  The article mentions some other references too, which I’ll definitely be looking up. There is also a list of books on this same website of recommended Holocaust books:  https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/10-holocaust-books-you-should-read/

I love that as an adult I have the liberty to learn about what I want and have an endless library at my fingertips.

Have you ever had a “WTF” moment when learning something you never knew about history? Or something you thought you knew and understood, and come to find out there is a whole different version of things?  Please comment and share!