Read The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison by Pete Earley Online


A stunning account of life behind bars at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, where the nation's hardest criminals do hard time. "A page-turner, as compelling and evocative as the finest novel. The best book on prison I've ever read."--Jonathan Kellerman The most dreaded facility in the prison system because of its fierce population, Leavenworth is governed bA stunning account of life behind bars at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, where the nation's hardest criminals do hard time. "A page-turner, as compelling and evocative as the finest novel. The best book on prison I've ever read."--Jonathan Kellerman The most dreaded facility in the prison system because of its fierce population, Leavenworth is governed by ruthless clans competing for dominance. Among the "star" players in these pages: Carl Cletus Bowles, the sexual predator with a talent for murder; Dallas Scott, a gang member who has spent almost thirty of his forty-two years behind bars; indomitable Warden Robert Matthews, who put his shoulder against his prison's grim reality; Thomas Silverstein, a sociopath confined in "no human contact" status since 1983; "tough cop" guard Eddie Geouge, the only officer in the penitentiary with the authority to sentence an inmate to "the Hole"; and William Post, a bank robber with a criminal record going back to when he was eight years old--and known as the "Catman" for his devoted care of the cats who live inside the prison walls.Pete Earley, celebrated reporter and author of Family of Spies, all but lived for nearly two years inside the primordial world of Leavenworth, where he conducted hundreds of interviews. Out of this unique, extraordinary access comes the riveting story of what life is actually like in the oldest maximum-security prison in the country.Praise for The Hot House"Reporting at its very finest."--Los Angeles Times"The book is a large act of courage, its subject an important one, and . . . Earley does it justice."--The Washington Post Book World"[A] riveting, fiercely unsentimental book . . . To [Earley's] credit, he does not romanticize the keepers or the criminals. His cool and concise prose style serves him well. . . . This is a gutsy book."--Chicago Tribune"Harrowing . . . an exceptional work of journalism."--Detroit Free Press"If you're going to read any book about prison, The Hot House is the one. . . . It is the most realistic, unbuffed account of prison anywhere in print."--Kansas City Star "A superb piece of reporting."--Tom Clancy...

Title : The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780553560237
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 464 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison Reviews

  • Sarah
    2019-05-04 16:18

    Well-written insights into the lives (both inner and daily) of a selection of inmates who were at Leavenworth from 87-89. I wonder how much life in Leavenworth has changed since then, and if the new generation of guards still maintain the guard culture as it is represented in this book. In many ways, everyone involved comes off as being fairly awful, other than Geouge and Matthews. In case you've read the book and you're curious, here's the update: Scott, Post, and Bowles are now dead. Post committed suicide after a post-release crime spree. I'm guessing Scott died of liver disease (which the book references). I couldn't find any obit for Bowles, just a deceased notice on the BOP locator. Bucklew was a pseudonym for Terry Alden, who is in Allenwood USP until 2058. Silverstein is at a supermax in Colorado. Thomas Little was released in 2005 after serving 22 years. His story was probably the most alarming to me as far as the justice system goes. He robbed two banks (getting away with less than 5k each time and hurting nobody) and saying "Have a nice day" to the tellers after, and ended up serving more time than most murderers, rapists, and molesters do. I just don't get that. Maybe there's more to the story. The author seems to think that the BOP suspected that Little's friendship with Carl Bowles made him too dangerous to release. Bowles died in 2007.

  • Fishface
    2019-05-12 11:31

    A lot of books hint around about prison culture and what it's like to be incarcerated long-term; this book shows you what goes on in one of the toughest prisons in North America. The author does a great job of explaining how it works for the prisoners, how it works for the men and women keeping them locked up in there, and does a good job of sketching the bottomless gulf in between. I was also gratified to find that the whole first chapter was an update on one of our local boogeymen, Ronald Bailey ("Jeffrey Hicks"), a little creep parents in this area still mutter about nervously. Not an uplifting read, but a very enlightening one. I feel like I largely understand now how it works -- as told by the people involved.

  • Ensiform
    2019-05-04 17:18

    The author, a journalist, was granted unprecedented access into the Hot House, where interviewed many inmates, guards, employees and family members. The result is this immensely readable 375-page tome, a wake-up call to all the “Square Johns” as to what prison life is really all about. Here are all the assaults, rapes, extortions, hooch, poker and drug deals, and everything else you hear about in the media. Earley did a fine balancing act, trying to tell the story from both the perspective of the con and the CO – though he did not get anything from black inmates, I suppose because of prison’s segregated nature, this was impossible.If two memes here stand out from the others, other than a simple overarching feeling of constant brutality, they are: first, that the sentences that are handed out in this country seem sometimes to be whimsical and unjust – some monsters get nine years for rape and torture, while a man who never hurt anyone gets 25 for robbing a bank. This latter criminal, of course, is turned into a monster just by living in Leavenworth, so when he finally does get out, it’s society that pays a price in blood for not trying to rehabilitate this lesser criminal in the first place. The second interesting idea that the scenes of this book imply – though Earley never explicitly makes the point – is that the guards seem to be very much akin to the inmates: both groups are self-segregated and have racist tendencies (the COs toss the N word around with abandon), and seem to share the same delight in violence. Food for thought, you might say.

  • Mara
    2019-05-11 17:39

    A review on the back of my copy of the book by Nelson DeMillw says it perfectly: "You don't read this book as an outsider looking into Leavenworth. On the first page, you open the gates of the prison; by the second page, the gates have been closed behind you-and you won't get our until the final page."Fascinating and just so well done.

  • Joe
    2019-05-17 13:23

    I used to dream about fucking women - beautiful women with great big tits ... But this is what I dream about now. I dream about fucking a fat prison guard and stabbing him in the back. It's scary, man. I wonder what I'll be dreaming a year from now, or maybe five years from now. I wonder what I'll be dreaming when I finally get back on the streets.A fantastic piece of journalism. Earley spent two years researching for this book inside Leavenworth Prison, between 1987 and 1989 - a federal prison in Kansas, and at the time maximum-security. He was granted unlimited access to the prisoners and officers - a wonderful thing - and the result was this superb book. Earley interviewed hundreds of prisoners and officers, and in the end settled on nine individuals, with a few random snippets called 'A Voice' from various anonymous individuals placed throughout the book, which like the above quotation, are usually chilling. The writing is candid, concise and makes for very compulsive reading. Earley does a remarkable job; he treads the line between inmate and prison officer and good and evil. We get a comprehensive view of life inside a federal penitentiary from Earley's research and from the candid views of the prisoners - the majority of whom are bank robbers (something I found very striking - the amount of bank robbers that seemed to be in this prison!) and officers and the warden, Robert Matthews. We get a clear image of the layout of the prison at the time, and also an insight into the boiling pot of the Cuban prisoner crisis - Cuban men, many of whom were serving long sentences for petty crimes, had rioted at Atlanta when they were told that they were going to be sent back to Cuba, and as a result hundreds were sent to Leavenworth and kept in fairly bad conditions until Bill Slack was put in charge of the unit. Many of the inmates in the book are prolific bank robbers serving serious time. One man was up for parole having served 15 years for a bank robbery. It looked like he would get parole but he was denied. What really gutted this man was that he knew of a rapist who had kidnapped a teenager, raped her and cut off her arms, and was paroled after just nine years! "How can I take these people seriously [the parole board] ... When they tell me I'm worse than a guy who rapes a girl, chops off her arms, and throws her out on the side of the road?"There's also the sense that an inmate in for a simple stretch for armed robbery could find himself never seeing the light of day again. There are predators, and if he is to defend himself, he could end up killing a man and spending the rest of his life in prison. Thomas Silverstein's accounts were challenging; he brutally murdered an officer in another prison, as he deemed that he was being bullied by him. As a result, he has spent the last six years in solitary confinement. The lights are on 24 hours a day, and he hasn't been outside in six years! At one point does punishment start becoming torture? I found myself wondering. But this book made me come to the conclusion that locking a man up for his crime and depriving him of freedom should be punishment enough. After all, prison is never going to be a nice place to live, no matter where or what kind it is. Anything else beyond that is just cold revenge. But Silverstein's account is still challenging; the murder of a prison officer is inexcusable. These men, at the end of the day, are just doing their job and are part of prison life, like the bars and the boredom, and as one captain puts it, "You have to have a lot of love in your heart to act professionally and do the right thing no matter what you feel." The guards didn't put the men in there and for the most part are just trying to make sure that everyone gets through the day safely. 'The Hot House' sobriquet comes from the fact that the top tier of the cellhouses were like an oven during the brutal Kansa's summer months, and convicts felt like they were melting in their cells at night. That's probably been rectified today, and it's important to consider that this account is an accurate description of the prison and it's inmates and life inside during the late 1980s, and not in the present-day. This is one of the best prison books that I've read, and I can't praise Earley enough for his top-notch journalism, neutralism and hard work in writing this book. I think it's safe to say that he portrays prison life, at least in an American federal maximum-security prison, as accurately as possible, with a variety of voices from both sides inside it's walls.

  • Bey Deckard
    2019-05-19 16:30

    Not a read for everyone but I found it compelling and informative. I liked how the author picked from here and there to tell the story—you get a sense that it was difficult to limit himself to the stories/interviews he chose. You'll read one account and say "hey, this guy is innocent/should have better treatment" and think that Earley is sympathizing with the man, but then he turns that feeling around on its head in the next chapter when he makes you side with the guards. In the end, no one's word is really to be trusted because the only one who knows the truth of these stories are the ones who lived them.EDIT: Oh! I forgot to mention something. This is an older book—there is a section of pictures in the middle of the ebook just like you'd have, on glossy pages, in middle of the paperback/hardcover. I was confused for a minute until I realized what it was. The chapter that it interrupts continues right after the images.

  • Melissa
    2019-05-14 14:22

    Pete Earley spent 3 years keeping up with the lives of 5 inmates deemed highly dangerous and sentenced to life in the Leavenworth penitentiary. He provides the stories from not only the 5 inmates he interviewed, but also the officers and wardens involved at the Leavenworth penitentiary at the time at that time. The stories are true-pics are provided to provide the reader with a more realistic idea of the "Hot House" and characters involved. I was enthralled with the stories and Early's use of words to pain pictures in the reader's mind. This book made my "would read again" list...and I generally don't read a book more than once!!!!

  • Cora
    2019-05-17 15:27

    I was surprised by how much I liked this one. Good journalistic read and well paced.

  • Patrick O'Neil
    2019-05-04 16:37

    A well written work of journalism on a tough subject. Although at times just another litany of horrors from behind the walls. Stabbings, beatings, rapes and riots. Pete Earley gets the sordid details interviewing prisoners, guards and wardens. Yet with most journalists there is a sense on neutrality in their reporting, or at least there should be. Had Earley stayed neutral, less sensationalism, less pro-establishment, more consideration of the prisoners that aren't the blood thirsty "convicts" he sought to portray, then The Hot House would have been a stronger, realer book. But apparently most people reading about prisons don't want to hear about the monotony, the boredom, the futility and mind numbing sameness of daily incarcerated life - they want shanks, shivs, hooch, and punks and this is what Earley delivered.

  • Marge
    2019-05-14 10:19

    This was an excellent book. I grew up near Leavenworth. Some of my high school classmates' fathers were prison guards there, and at least one of my high school classmates became a guard there. I was always fascinated by the size of the prison and feared escapes. I once drove up to the entrance of the prison, but a feeling of overwhelming evil took hold of me and I could hardly wait to leave.While reading Mr. Earley's book, I was struck by the irrational "thinking" of the criminals, and knew anyone who tries to explain their behavior by excusing it and blaming others, doesn't belong in society. Society must be protected -- our families are more important than feeling sorry for criminals.

  • Kari Coleman
    2019-05-21 16:20

    I have really been on a non-fiction kick lately, in hopes of expanding my reading base. It has always been so much easier for me to pick up a fiction book and get lost in whatever world the story puts me in. For non-fiction I have this horrible idea that it's going to be a harder read and I won't enjoy it as much, which is completely FALSE!!! At my office, you get a sense of what genre's people like by what you see them reading in the lunch room. About a year ago, I noticed that one of the girls always has non-fiction books based on prisons, true crime, and maybe even a few biographies. I have always been intrigued by these topics, but wasn't really sure where to even being to find a good/interesting book. So, the other day, I just asked her if she had a favorite book, or how she went about choosing the ones she reads. She happened to have one of her favorites sitting on her desk and let me borrow it!I did not want to put this book down. It was so interesting, and I just got caught up in their world, or at least as close as my mind would allow. Obviously this is something that you would have to have experienced before to really understand, and I can thankfully say that I have never, nor ever plan to be part of the prison crowd. Let me just say that Pete Earley is a very brave man. He spent two years, 1987-1989, going into Leavenworth Prison in Leavenworth, Kansas without protection, to get the "true stories" that he shares. Some history that I was able to pick up on Leavenworth, it was built to resemble the Capitol in Washington D.C., and has a dome and all, obviously it is not made out of the same material. This was the first federal prison built, and is a level 5, Maximum security prison. The inmates are all males, and the majority of the prison staff are male as well. Those females that do venture to work there, are often times kept in assistant/secretary/school teacher type roles, and not guards. Pete Earley not only interviews the inmates, but the guards as well. Some of them tell about their crimes and their lives inside the prison, others talk about their families and their lives before prison. One of the big controversies that first happens in this book is that the newly appointed warden is a black man. This upsets not only the AB (Aryan Brotherhood) inmates, but also those guards who are resistant to be taking orders from a black man. Some of the inmates that Earley talks to are: Carl Bowles, Thomas Little, Thomas Silverstein, Dallas Scott and Norman Bucklew (whose name was changed to protect him). The guards and other prison workers were: Warden Matthews, Eddie Geouge, Bill Slack, and Elke Shoats.Thomas Silverstein was one of the most talked about prisoners during this two year period. He was kept in an isolated cell, with no human contact (solitary confinement) and the lights were kept on 24 hours a day. The only human interaction would be with the two guards that are posted outside his cell, but because he killed a guard, they will not speak to him. Although a very creative artist, he is denied drawing materials for quite some time as a reminder of who is in charge. There is a picture of one of this sketches in the book, and I was incredibly impressed with his artistic ability.As I was reading this book, I kept thinking what life would be like to be a guard at a prison. From the accounts that are shared with Pete Earley, it sounds like there is a fine-line between home and work life, that is quite often blurred. One account, the guy ends up being shot, with a shotgun, by his own children. As the story unfolds it turns out that he was very abusive at home, and the kids finally got sick of it and took matters into their own hands. When you are constantly trying to prove your authority and keep others in check, it would be hard to turn that off when you weren't on the clock. It would be hard to leave this kind of work "at the office" at the end of the day. You would almost be inhumane if you were able to do that on a daily basis and not let the work effect you. Carl Bowles, one of the inmates, has been in prison for the majority of his life, and is very respected/feared within Leavenworth. He likes to pick new inmates and take them under his wing. The guards and other inmates will often snicker that Carl is only picking the new meat so that they can be his "wife" on the inside. Carl talked to Thomas Little when he arrives and makes it clear that if you don't want anyone to mess with you there are three things you can do. You can team up with someone for protection, let them mess with you, or kill them. Thomas decides to take Carl up on his offer and they form quite a friendship. Carl explains to Thomas, after he hears other inmates calling him Carl's "wife" that after spending so much of his life in prison, he is just looking for someone that he can form a tight bond with. Of course he has sexual desires, but those can be taken care of. It is much harder to connect with someone on a more intimate basis while in prison. Someone you can talk to, and share things with, someone who really understands what you go through on a daily basis, and he found this companion in Thomas Little. Carl also goes out of his way to help have Thomas transferred to a lower level prison. Thomas is a first time offender and his crime was a bank robbery. Carl, after coaching Thomas what to ask, finds out that Thomas has been listed as an escape risk and that is why he was sent to Leavenworth. Apparently at the jail Thomas was being held in, the guard allegedly found Thomas' cell bars had been sawed through, and instead of proving that Thomas was the one that did it, they just made a note in his file and off to Leavenworth he went. It was interesting to see what the different guards and inmates chose to talk to Pete about. Even though some of these guys are very dangerous people and have committed heinous crimes, they were very open and honest with Pete in regards to a variety of topics. Some wanted to talk about their families, or how they were better suited in prison than the outside world. Inside, they knew the rules and how to handle themselves, but if you open the gates, it becomes a whole new ballgame. Most of the inmates that were released ended up back inside within a year or two. Sometimes when you've lived one way of life for so long, it's hard to reprogram yourself and adjust to being a part of society again. There were even a few guys who preferred being behind bars than out on the streets. This book was very much outside of my usual realm, but it was very mind-opening and I know it will stay with me for quite some time. I would really like to read something else along these same lines, and if you have any suggestions, they would be much appreciated. If any of this interests you, I would really recommend picking up this book. It is an eye-opening experience and a great read!

  • Ana-Maria Bujor
    2019-04-28 15:41

    This book presents the stories gathered by one journalist who was allowed to roam free in one of the toughest prisons in US. And it does a very good job at making one not stop reading for hours. The stories are engrossing, tough and very matter-of-fact. Both prison staff and inmates get presented in depth and in such a manner that one can get to see humanity in even the worst killer, while never minimizing their deeds. In fact this is what I appreciated most - the way the author manages to walk the thin line between demonizing these people for what they did and excusing their deeds. The book has a lot of deep reflections about freedom, society, friendship, life and death, in face even more than books that claim to talk about all of these. Overall a surprisingly intelligent and interesting book. Will look for more works from the author.

  • An
    2019-05-05 17:24

    The Hot House provides a fascinating look into the lives of the inmates and guards of Leavenworth Prison in the late 1980s. While journalist Peter Earley doesn't shy away from the horrors of prison life (there are plenty of mentions of rape, torture, murder), he also presents a balanced view of the power dynamics in the prison; there is no black and white, good versus evil. It calls into question the American judicial system and the effectiveness of rehabilitation in a prison environment. I'd be interested in seeing a follow-up, especially with the rise of prison privatization in the 1990s and 2000s and its implications.

  • Rita
    2019-05-06 16:42

    Fascinating mishmosh of multiple narratives within Leavenworth prison. You have to look back frequently to produce cohesive story lines, but the author acknowledges this at the onset. What struck me the most was the camaraderie between guards and (sometimes extremely violent) inmates that exists in the day-to-day, and the obvious but sometimes unsettling humanity that exists within people who somehow find it in themselves to commit horrific crimes. Fun, easy read.

  • Barron Leland
    2019-05-21 11:37

    This is a well researched look into a notorious prison. The criminals that the book covers are just that, really nasty murderous criminals. Glad those folks are locked up. It is informative but, I would say the skill level of writer ship or conveyance is marginal at best. Seems to be written by an average reporter that does everything in life in an average way for the sake of establishing more average-ness. Not written in a clever way, the cup is there but, it is dry.

  • Jane Thompson
    2019-05-19 11:39

    Prison StoryPete Early does it again. He writes about a complex system and uses examples to clarify it for us. He explains for us the prison system and how both prisoners and guards think and react.

  • Gabriella
    2019-05-07 16:30

    SO interesting

  • Andy Norris
    2019-05-22 10:17

    Even-handed writing. Interesting read.

  • Joe
    2019-05-08 12:15

    Very good book about prison life!

  • Shannon Miller
    2019-05-06 17:20

    Well written, but dry.

  • Laura
    2019-05-17 11:25

    Through a connection with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Earley gained unprecedented access to one of the federal system's most brutal properties. Many of the Leavenworth inmates he profiles are serving multiple life sentences, oftentimes both for crimes committed on the street and once locked up.One, Thomas Silverstein, killed a guard while at an even more infamous federal prison in Marion, Illinois. He lives in a cage in Leavenworth's basement that inspired Hannibal Lecter's Tennessee digs in Silence of the Lambs. Another, Dallas Scott, thought nothing of threatening an inmate's life to induce his girlfriend to smuggle heroin into the prison. William Post looks after the cats at the prison. It's revealed far into the book that he married a girl from the outside while serving time in a penitentiary in California, and when denied parole, cut off all contact with no explanation. Post did this because he gave up hope; there's a lot of that going around in Hot House, even among the guards, who by and large hold a lot of contempt for the inmates, and for their new warden, not least because of his race. Robert Matthews, extensively profiled by Earley, faces an uphill battle as he replaces a popular (and white) warden named Jerry O'Brien and makes unusual managerial changes. This book is not for those horrified by unrepentant violence - and this violence reads quite differently from the made-up murders in mystery novels, or even great magazine pieces on true crime. The convicts Earley profiles might have come into prison with a less-than-shocking story; a lot of them robbed banks and left no casualties. Prison life, however, deepens extreme defensive instincts, with constant threats of shank attacks and rape, the necessity of joining a group or gang for protection, and the underlying tension between guards and inmates. I read this book because I like Earley and I wanted to delve further into the subject of the American prison life and the Aryan Brotherhood, two horrors that inspired me to work as a public defender. What I found required some detachment from the narrative. Morbid curiosity only carried me so far; by the end, I admit I was grateful to leave the Hot House and back into the world of fake murders, where there's more romance to killings - and more reason than deep-seated and festering hatred.

  • Cat
    2019-05-24 17:31

    As a fan of both books about prison and the author, I was understandably excited about reading this book. I maintained that excitement until I was about three quarters of the way through, and then I realized that I really didn't care for plot elements that involved Warden Matthews and the prison guards.If there's one thing I learned from this book it's that begin the warden of a U.S. Prison is just as exciting as working in the General Services Administration.On the other hand, I found the stories about the inmates to be fascinating. The book is worth reading if only for the chapters on inmate Silverstein, who has been on "no human contact" orders since he was convicted of killing a guard at Marion in the 1980's. Silverstein is a sort of prison culture icon: he lives in a cell where the lights are on 24 hours a day and nobody is allowed to talk to him except a pyschologist who's job (apparently) is to ensure that he doesn't go nuts.I did notice that the author did not seem to interview a single African American inmate. All of the profiled inmates are white. I don't understand how you could spend two years in Leavenworth and not interview a single black inmate. I mean, this is the United States prison system we're talking about.

  • Lizz Rubio
    2019-05-09 18:16

    Anyone who wants to know what it feels like inside the walls needs to read this book. My perspective is that of an Officer, so when I picked up this book I braced myself to be irritated by the crybaby story of an attention-seeking inmate who is eager to sarcastically yell "My hands are up, don't shoot!" when you tell them 'no', or one eager to threaten a lawsuit because "you're violating my civil rights!" when canteen is out of Snickers bars. "This is police brutality!" when the facility goes on security override due to electrical failure. These are all real-life examples of how inmates act today. Accordingly, I wondered what this book would hold; how true to reality it might be.What I did not realize is that this book was published in 1993, before American society exhibited the insane amount of entitlement present in 2015. It appears men were men in 1993. I don't think I rolled my eyes once.The book offers an unflinching view of life in prison from a variety of perspectives and doesn't hold back on any of them. No matter your perspective, your starting point; if you are, have been, or have loved anybody who is anywhere inside the criminal justice system on either side, this book is a must-read.

  • Samantha
    2019-05-19 13:42

    Pete Earley's 'The Hot House' offers a compulsively readable, honest-feeling account of what life's really like inside a maximum-security prison. By focusing on the stories of individual prisoners and guards, he's able to offer more insight on the mindset of the incarcerated and the staff, rather than a completely dispassionate accounting of facts. He doesn't flinch away from exposing some of the hypocrisies of his featured individuals - for instance, the man who refuses to "snitch" for the honor of the thing, but who thought nothing of slaughtering two innocent seniors who accidentally got in his way, or the prison guards who are devoted to their work, but among whom the well of racism runs deep and isn't particularly hidden. Readers learn a bit about prison politics as well - both among the prisoners and among officials. Honest without being judgemental, disturbing in some ways and thought-provoking in other, 'The Hot House'offers an interesting look at a world most of us will hopefully never see. Recommended for anyone interested in true crime, or simply how the U.S. prison system works.

  • Bianca
    2019-05-24 16:43

    I love non fiction prison stories and this book has it all. It's one of the most horrifying and fascinating looks at what it's really like inside. Some of the stories and and side stories are truly the stuff that nightmares are made of....and no shit, once you read something like this it's impossible to unread it or forget it. You hear about shitty things that people do to other people all the time but some of this stuff makes you really appreciate having places like Leavenworth, most of the people in here really need to be kept of the streets for a long long time...having said that, the prison code and standards these guys hold themselves to is quite admirable in some twisted, messed up way and more than once I thought about what some of these guys could have become if they'd followed a different path. It's been 25 years since Pete Earley was in Leavenworth and I have no doubt that some things have probably changed since then but this book is still very interesting and readable. If you like true crime, especially prison stuff then definitely read this.

  • Chris
    2019-05-24 11:32

    I first read this book in high school, and was interested to see how it compared now. I was pleased to find that I still greatly enjoyed it.The author spent a great deal of time inside Leavenworth, talking to inmates and guards. He didn't have an escort or a radio, and was pretty much allowed to wander where he pleased. I think what makes this book different is that it has no thesis. That might be a detriment to many books, but it works perfectly here. You see inmates from the guards' perspective, and guards from the inmates' perspective, and you are often given two competing versions of a story without a "real" answer. I appreciate this a lot, because instead of trying to have a political or ethical perspective, Earley was simply showing how things worked in prison. It gives you a real sense of how things work, and the giant gray area that is the prison system.

  • amanda
    2019-05-05 18:23

    necessary reading for anyone who's interested in the prison system. a journalist given unprecedented access into leavenworth prison at the time when it was still maximum security, earley has had the chance to get to know both the inmates, the guards, and the warden. i think he does a fantastic job of humanizing everyone--even the guards aren't always "nice" or "good" people, but you can really feel for them. this was just a really solid book, both in the research, the writing, and the tone. a lot of true crime can be sensational or judgmental, and i think earley avoided those pitfalls. it was respectful, empathetic, and if not always enjoyable to read (given the subject matter), it was always fascinating.

  • Nicholas
    2019-05-22 18:26

    The best non-fiction book about Prison in the language. Earley was given unprecedented access(it would never be given again) to Leavenworth at a time when Leavenworth was the "Harvard of the federal prison system," home to the hardest of the hard. The convicts Earley is interested in aren't reflective of the larger inmate population-they're all white for one-and that's what makes it such a remarkable account. Earley focuses on the leaders and the legends, the people who matter within the walls. They're unabashed criminals and will stick you without a moment's notice, but they're also incredibly compelling and there's something weirdly admirable about the consistency of their world view.

  • Russell
    2019-05-08 11:25

    The author is an investigative reporter who details life at Leavenworth prison both inside and outside the walls.The author has repeated interviews with various members of the Aryan Brotherhood who are exceptionally candid about the violence and scheming that go on behind the walls. Yet, the author is always implying that he cannot give (or get) the full story. Case in point, the author brings up numerous times how defensive one older prisoner is about his relationship with his younger bunkmate, "We're just friends."

  • NancyG
    2019-05-06 18:43

    My next door office mate recommended that I read this book about life inside Leavenworth Prison and with my criminal justice degree and current job helping put the bad guys in prison I couldn't resist checking the book out. I didn't have a lot of sympathy for the inmates but then I don't think most folks would. The guards aren't protrayed a lot more sympathetically giving the book a realistic feel. The author was the first journalist given unfettered access and the result is a harrowing look into a very scary world.