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« Kingdom Coming, by Michelle Goldberg | Main | The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe »


American Furies, by Sasha Abramsky

By an everyday book reader
May 1, 2007

In this dramatic expose of U.S. penitentiaries and the communities around them, Sasha Abramsky finds that prisons have dumped their age-old goal of rehabilitation, often for political reasons. The new "ideal," unknown to most Americans, is a punitive mandate marked by a drive toward vengeance.

Surveying this state of affairs - life sentences for nonviolent crimes, appalling conditions, the growth of private prisons, the treatment of juveniles - Abramsky asks: Does the vengeful impulse ennoble our culture or demean it? What can become of people who are quarantined for years in a violent subculture?

American Furies: Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment
by Sasha AbramskyBook Picture

Hardcover: 240 pages
ISBN: 9780807042229, 0807042226
Beacon Press
May 2007

California's Three Strikes law typifies the politics that exploit the grief of victims' families and our fears of violent crime. Brilliantly researched and compellingly told, American Furies shows that the ethos of "lock 'em up and throw away the key" has enormous social costs.

"The most urgent book of the season. Sasha Abramsky provides us with an invaluable, if harrowing, audit of the cataclysmic damage inflicted upon American values by American prisons. The lack of compassion in our national life and the gangrened hearts of our politicians pose greater threats to our childrens' futures than any overseas terrorist conspiracy." - Mike Davis, professor of history at University of California-Irvine and author of seven books including Planet of Slums and The Monster At Our Door

"A smart, compassionate and tough-minded look at the rise and impact of the tough-on-crime culture that has made America the world's foremost jailer. By showing us how we got into this mess, this revelatory book also holds out hope that we might find our way out." - Nell Bernstein, former Soros Justice Media Fellow and author of All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated

"This is by far the most intelligent and haunting indictment of the American prison system that I have ever read. Sasha Abramsky has shone an incandescent lamp on a shadowy underground universe that holds and in all too many cases brutalizes the lives of more than two million Americans. He should be commended for doing so, and his book made required reading for every legislator in the land, bar none." - Simon Winchester, author of A Crack in the Edge of the World and The Professor and the Madman

"Timely and important. Instead of preaching democracy to the world, the United States should start practicing it at home." - Eric Schlosser

"The war on drugs, the disenfranchisement of convicted felons, a series of dodgy electoral Republican victories . . . someone had to connect the dots, and Sasha Abramsky has done so with passion, precision, and artistry." - Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Sasha Abramsky has written for The Atlantic, The Nation, and Rolling Stone. The author of Conned: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House and Hard Time Blues: How Politics Built a Prison Nation, he has also reported on U.S. prisons for Human Rights Watch. He lives in Sacramento, California.

"There's no doubt about where journalist Abramsky's fury is directed: at the contemporary U.S. penal system, which he criticizes for jettisoning any thoughts of rehabilitation in favor of increasingly harsh punishment, and which he sees as a reflection of America's violent culture. Few would find much to argue with as Abramsky depicts the recent growth of, and violence in, American prisons; he presents alarming statistics on the rise in government spending on punishment in the past 25 years, even as a 'less government is more' ethos has ruled. He's also highly critical of mandatory sentencing laws. As he and others have pointed out, law and order wins political races, and jails provide jobs in places where industry has dried up. Abramsky has long written about this issue, and the book displays a lot of on-the-ground reportage with prisoners, corrections officials and scholars. His suggestions for returning to rehabilitation could be more specific, but this remains a well-researched." - Publishers Weekly

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This page contains only one entry posted to Everyday Citizen on May 1, 2007 6:42 PM.

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