About the book
In 1961, young, black, eighth-grade dropout Wilbert Rideau despaired of his small-town future in the segregated deep south of America. He set out to rob the local bank and after a bungled robbery he killed the bank teller, a fifty-year-old white female. He was arrested and gave a full confession.When we meet Rideau he has just been sentenced to death row, from where he embarks on an extraordinary journey. He is imprisoned at Angola, the most violent prison in America, where brutality, sexual slavery and local politics confine prisoners in ways that bars alone cannot. Yet Rideau breaks through all this and finds hope and meaning, becoming editor of the prison magazine, going on to win national journalism awards. Full of gritty realism and potent in its evocation of a life condemned, Rideau goes far beyond the traditional prison memoir and reveals an emotionally wrought and magical conclusion to his forty-four years in prison.
A book that moves without letup to an ending that's alive with suspense
A series of stunning journalistic revelations... quite simply, no prison memoir in recent memory contains prose as deft or as riveting
This is a breathtaking and, ultimately, triumphant story of rehabilitation through endurance and courageous journalism.It is also a searing indictment of a broken, corrupt penal system that does far more damage than good to our society as a whole. This is an extraordinary book.
To hold in your hand a book like this is a small miracle. Rideau's endurance and strength of spirit are an amazement, models for all humankind. I found his story to be utterly gripping and it will not be giving anything away to say that I have not read such a happy ending in a long, long time.
Candid ... poignant... Rideau is the rarest of American commodities - a man who exited a penitentiary in better shape than when he arrived