John / Memoir / Nonfiction

Whipping Boy by Allen Kurzweil

Whipping Boy author Allen Kurzweil is not the first, and unfortunately not the last, to suffer at the hands of a childhood bully. Kurzweil crossed paths with a boy named Cesar Augustus while attending Aiglon, a Swiss boarding school. While he only spent a year there, Kurzweil found several of the humiliations Augustus dished out to him so disturbing that the memories haunted him into adulthood. These incidents included Augustus tossing a watch Kurzweil inherited from his late father out the window. (While he didn’t witness this act, Kurzweil was sure that Augustus did it.) Something even more bizarre occurred when Augustus repeatedly whipped Kurzweil while playing a cassette of a particular scene of the Jesus Christ Superstar cast recording.

After Augustus appeared as one of the characters in Kurzweil’s children’s book Leon and the Spitting Image, he began to wonder what had happened to him in the intervening years. Even with his unique name, Augustus proved difficult to track down. Kurzweil eventually discovered that he was part of an incredibly complicated loan scam involving, among other things, fake royalty. Celebrities such as Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and Ernest Borgnine were involved in the scam and unraveling it steers a good chunk of the book into the true crime genre.

Fact proves stranger than fiction in this engrossing read. After years of tracking Augustus through court documents and online searches, Kurzweil does eventually meet up with him. Like most of Whipping Boy, the oddness of Kurzweil’s long-awaited reunion with his childhood bully shows that fact really can be stranger than fiction.



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