The Adversary

by Ted on July 13, 2004

I recently read Emmanuel Carrere’s The Adversary cover-to-cover in one night. It’s the true story of a man named Jean-Claude Roland who takes a terrible path, ending with his murder of his own wife, children, and parents.

Roland missed an important exam at the end of his second year of medical school, but never rescheduled it. Instead, he told everyone he had passed, and pretended to continue his studies. He married and had children, and became a respected member of the community, having convinced everyone that he was a high-ranking official with the World Health Organization. He got by by defrauding his parents, in-laws, and friends. He told them that he was investing their money, or selling them worthless cancer treatments. Eventually, when he realized he was on the verge of being discovered, he killed his family, and made a (strikingly half-hearted) effort to kill himself.

I find his story fascinating for a number of reasons, but I’ll single out one: it was so irrational. He could have just rescheduled the exam he missed. He could have gotten a job

Highly recommended.

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