REVIEWS+

Solitary

Grove. Mar. 2019. 320p. index. ISBN 9780802129086. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802146908. BIOG
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Born in segregated New Orleans in 1947 and raised in the black neighborhood Treme, Woodfox offers an autobiography that is more than his life story. Moving from petty thievery to armed robbery that, at 18, sent him to Louisiana's infamous maximum security prison at Angola, Woodfox had a stint in New York's Manhattan House of Detention called "the Tombs." There he met members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense who increased his understanding of institutionalized racism. Woodfox returned to Angola after being wrongly convicted of the murder of a prison guard, for which he was locked down 23 hours a day in a six-by-nine-foot cell for 44 years. How he survived, indeed how he became a better human being amid beatings, isolation, and persecution carry his narrative. More than his telling self-realization and detailing conditions of life behind bars, Woodfox reaches back to the mold of George Jackson's now classic Soledad Brother (1970) to produce a powerful manifesto for reform of the racist, unjust, and inhumane prison-industrial complex.
VERDICT A worthy read for anyone interested in the struggle to ensure humanity exists behind bars in America.

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