Iron House: Stories from the Yard

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9780679764052: Iron House: Stories from the Yard
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A series of vignettes depicting life behind bars in America's prisons offers a witness' view of a dehumanizing system

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From Booklist:

Washington was an organizing force behind the popular revolt at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Imprisoned from 1972 to 1989, Washington continued to write, publishing two books and a number of plays, and won the initial First Amendment victory of a prisoner against prison officials. Iron House is Washington's fifth book, winner of the 1994 Western States Arts Federation Book Award for creative nonfiction, and one of the clearest and most visceral accounts of day-to-day prison life ever written. In a series of rigorously styled vignettes, the book reveals the ghastly ineptitude of American "prison reform." But most important, it depicts prisoners and guards alike simply as the human beings they are, people who must face, every day, often violently, one of the most inhuman and corrupt communities in history, where individuals are driven necessarily to brutality, insanity, and death as well as to desperate brotherhood and savage enlightenment. Beautifully moving, painfully honest to its heart, and often darkly comic, Iron House deserves to be read by every citizen of the U.S., which boasts the largest prison population in the world. In Washington's words, "Those of us who are in prison have been convicted. Everyone else is still on trial." Greg Burkman

From Library Journal:

Iron House is a collection of stories, anecdotes, character sketches, and simple one-line observations concerning the 16 years author Washington spent in Attica Correctional Facility. Nearly all the pieces are brief, so abridgment damages them very little. The sound of a cell door slamming shut separates the pieces, punctuating and emphasizing with a power not available to the print version. Washington reads his own material, and his narration is as rough and hoarse as his prose is polished, which only adds to the authenticity of his work. He introduces us to an amazing collection of colorfully named convicts. The chilling callousness of the early segments gives way to the author's rediscovery of his own humanity, especially in the longest piece wherein Jomo, another prisoner, teaches Washington how to free his mind by standing in one spot where he can see no prison, only sky, and letting his imagination soar. This is good stuff. Recommended for most collections.?John Hiett, Iowa City
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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