Book Reviews: Disobedient Women & While Idaho Slept

The town of Moscow, Idaho has made national and international headlines a lot over the past few years. That media coverage has resulted in multiple books being written about the town and its inhabitants. Below are reviews of two books with ties to the community.

Disobedient Women

Full Title: Disobedient Women: How a Small Group of Faithful Women Exposed Abuse, Brought Down Powerful Pastors, and Ignited an Evangelical Reckoning
Author: Sarah Stankorb
List Price: $27.00

Buy it Now | BookPeople of Moscow

Journalist Sarah Stankorb has helped give voice to stories of abuse, molestation, and pedophilia by sharing the voices of courageous women who fight for change within American evangelical churches. Disobedient Women serves up the harsh realities of the large-scale changes happening within evangelical churches regarding women’s roles, white-nationalism, and a culture hell-bent on covering up abuse.

Within sprawling ministries and megachurches, cult leaders build fiefdoms that demand loyalty at all costs. Doug Wilson’s pro-slavery cult in Moscow, Idaho is counted among the most heinous offenders and is covered in chapters 17, 18, & 19. Under the auspices of Christianity and Wilson’s encouragement, congregants have incited riots, defaced public property with images of the communist sickle & hammer, and harbored pedophiles, some of whom molested children as young as 6 months old. Perhaps that’s not surprising from a man who finds women most attractive after they’ve been “hit in the face with a brick.”

The stories of abuse that unfold in the three chapters dedicated to Moscow, Idaho are well known in the community and mirror that of other survivors I know who have managed to escape the cult. The book is definitely worth a read.

While Idaho Slept

Full Title: While Idaho Slept: The Hunt for Answers in the Murders of Four College Students
Author: J. Reuben Appelman
List Price: $18.99

Buy it Now | BookPeople of Moscow

Just after 4:00 am November 13, 2022, four University of Idaho students were brutally killed in their off-campus apartment. The killings shook the college town of Moscow, Idaho, dominated mainstream news coverage, and became a social media obsession. After more than a month of searching, the Moscow Police Department, the FBI, and the Idaho State Police found the killer—Brian Kohberger—a 28-year-old Ph.D. candidate studying criminology at Washington State University.

The author claims to tell the inside story of the “Idaho Murders.” Instead, what he provides is a summary of all the publicly known information. And what the author didn’t know, he made up.

Some of the author’s “artistic license” can even be seen in facts as benign and easily verifiable as basic geography. For instance, Appleman claims Moscow is located “in the Palouse Mountains” with the scents of pine wafting down from the ridges to fill the town. Sounds nice in theory, but there aren’t any “Palouse Mountains.” The Palouse is a prairie–the town of Moscow is surrounded by rolling wheat fields, not pine forests.

Appleman’s biases again shows though when he describes the local pro-slavery, pedophile-harboring cult as a kindly church delivering cookies. Not only did he completely miss the mood and atmosphere of the town, but seeing as none of the victims or perpetrator were connected with the cult, I’m not sure why he even bothered to mention them.

All of the discrepancies made me feel like the author was more interested in portraying “the right image” than the truth. It also made me highly skeptical of a lot of the other details in the book.

While Idaho Slept manages to summarize the murder investigation in a tidy chronological order by compiling much of the information made available from traditional investigators, citizen sleuths & social media, court documents, and the mainstream media. Lovers of true crime, or those just wanting to refamiliarize themselves with the details before trial may enjoy this book. Just remember, the facts presented at trial may differ because not all of what the author wrote is true.

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