Never before had Daniel Bergner seen a spectacle as bizarre as the one he had come to watch that Sunday in October. Murderers, rapists, and armed robbers were competing in the annual rodeo at Angola, the grim maximum-security penitentiary in Louisiana. The convicts, sentenced to life without parole, were thrown, trampled, and gored by bucking bulls and broncos before thousands of cheering spectators. But amid the brutality of this gladiatorial spectacle Bergner caught surprising glimpses of exaltation, hints of triumphant skill.The incongruity of seeing hope where one would expect only hopelessness, self-control in men who were there because they'd had none, sparked an urgent quest in him. Having gained unlimited and unmonitored access, Bergner spent an unflinching year inside the harsh world of Angola. He forged relationships with seven prisoners who left an indelible impression on him. There's Johnny Brooks, seemingly a latter-day Stepin Fetchit, who, while washing the warden's car, longs to be a cowboy and to marry a woman he meets on the rodeo grounds. Then there's Danny Fabre, locked up for viciously beating a woman to death, now struggling to bring his reading skills up to a sixth-grade level. And Terry Hawkins, haunted nightly by the ghost of his victim, a ghost he tries in vain to exorcise in a prison church that echoes with the cries of convicts talking in tongues. Looming front and center is Warden Burl Cain, the larger-than-life ruler of Angola who quotes both Jesus and Attila the Hun, declares himself a prophet, and declaims that redemption is possible for even the most depraved criminal. Cain welcomes Bergner in, and so begins a journey that takes the author deep into a forgotten world and forces him to question his most closely held beliefs. The climax of his story is as unexpected as it is wrenching. Rendered in luminous prose, God of the Rodeo is an exploration of the human spirit, yielding in the process a searing portrait of a place that will be impossible to forget and a group of men, guilty of unimaginable crimes, desperately seeking a moment of grace.
An utterly original literary and intellectual collaboration by two of our keenest moral and political observers has produced a nonfiction Heart of Darkness for our time: the first full reckoning of what actually happened at Abu Ghraib prison, based on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with the Americans involved. Standard Operating Procedure reveals the stories of the American soldiers who took and appeared in the iconic photographs of the Iraq war-the haunting digital snapshots from Abu Ghraib prison that shocked the world-and simultaneously illuminates and alters forever our understanding of those images and the events they depict. Drawing on more than two hundred hours of Errol Morris's startlingly frank and intimate interviews with Americans who served at Abu Ghraib and with some of their Iraqi prisoners, as well as on his own research, Philip Gourevitch has written a relentlessly surprising account of Iraq's occupation from the inside out-rendering vivid portraits of guards and prisoners ensnared in an appalling breakdown of command authority and moral order. What did we think we saw in the infamous photographs, and what were we, in fact, looking at? What did the people in the photographs think they were doing, and why did they take them? What was standard operating procedure and what was being creative when it came to making prisoners uncomfortable? Who was giving orders, and who was following them? Where does the line lie between humiliation and torture, and why and how does that matter? Was the true Abu Ghraib scandal a result of an expos or a cover-up? In exploring these questions, Gourevitch and Morris have crafted a nonfiction morality play that stands toendure as essential reading long after the current war in Iraq passes from the headlines. By taking us deep into the voices and characters of the men and women who lived the horror of Abu Ghraib, the authors force us, whatever our politics, to reexamine the pat explanations in which we have been offered-or sought-refuge, and to see afresh this watershed episode. Instead of a few bad apples, we are confronted with disturbingly ordinary young American men and women who have been dropped into something out of Dante's Inferno. Standard Operating Procedure is a book that makes you think and makes you see-an essential contribution from two of our finest nonfiction artists working at the peak of their powers.
In the major league draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the State of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A's, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory.
Six years later he was back, his dreams broken by a bad arm and bad habits--drinking, drugs, and women. He began to show signs of mental illness. Unable to keep a job, he moved in with his mother and slept twenty hours a day on her sofa.
In 1982, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder.
With no physical evidence, the prosecution's case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Dennis Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Ron Williamson was sent to death row.
If you believe that in America you are innocent until proven guilty, this book will shock you. If you believe in the death penalty, this book will disturb you. If you believe the criminal justice system is fair, this book will infuriate you.
No More Prisons On Urban Life, Homeschooling, Hip-hop Leadership, The Cool Rich Kids Movement, Community Organizing and Why Philanthropy is the Greatest Artform of the 21st Century. William Upski Wimsatt In this follow-up to the underground best-seller "Bomb the Suburbs, William Upski Wimsatt "The Hitch-hiker's Guide expands its focus out of culture and into politics. Hybridization is favored over ideology, with an emphasis on democracy and community-empowerment through a new theory of development. A truly original document from the paradigm-flipping master of modern praxis.
Before Michael Connelly became a novelist, he was a crime reporter, covering the detectives who worked the homicide beat. In these vivid, hard-hitting pieces, Connelly leads the reader past the yellow police tape as he follows the investigators, the victims, their families and friends--and of, course, the killers--to tell the real stories of murder and its aftermath.
In the age of Trump, our society is defined by fear. Indeed, three out of four Americans say they feel more fearful today than they did only a couple decades ago. But are we living in exceptionally perilous times? In his bestselling book The Culture of Fear, sociologist Barry Glassner demonstrates that it is our perception of danger that has increased, not the actual level of risk. Glassner exposes the people and organizations that manipulate our perceptions and profit from our fears: politicians who win elections by heightening concerns about crime and drug use even as rates for both are declining; advocacy groups that raise money by exaggerating the prevalence of particular diseases; TV shows that create a new scare every week to garner ratings. Glassner spells out the prices we pay for social panics: the huge sums of money that go to waste on unnecessary programs and products as well as time and energy spent worrying about our fears.
All the while, we are distracted from the true threats, from climate change to worsening inequality. In this updated edition of a modern classic, Glassner examines the current panics over vaccination and "political correctness" and reveals why Donald Trump's fearmongering is so dangerously effective.
Philosopher, cultural critic, and agent provocateur Slavoj Zizek constructs a fascinating new framework to look at the forces of violence in our world.
Using history, philosophy, books, movies, Lacanian psychiatry, and jokes, Slavoj Zizek examines the ways we perceive and misperceive violence. Drawing from his unique cultural vision, Zizek brings new light to the Paris riots of 2005; he questions the permissiveness of violence in philanthropy; in daring terms, he reflects on the powerful image and determination of contemporary terrorists.
Violence, Zizek states, takes three forms--subjective (crime, terror), objective (racism, hate-speech, discrimination), and systemic (the catastrophic effects of economic and political systems)--and often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions.
Does the advent of capitalism and, indeed, civilization cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of "the neighbour"? And could the appropriate form of action against violence today simply be to contemplate, to think?
Beginning with these and other equally contemplative questions, Zizek discusses the inherent violence of globalization, capitalism, fundamentalism, and language, in a work that will confirm his standing as one of our most erudite and incendiary modern thinkers.
Edgar and Anthony Award Winner
Selected by the Literary Guild
" Remarkable...A true crime classic."
Enter the workday of real policemen. Follow fifteen detectives, three sergeants, and a lieutenant, whose job it is to investigate Baltimore's 234 murders. You will get a cop's-eye-view of the bureaucracy, the highs of success, the moments of despair, and the non-stop rush of pursuits, anger, banter, and violence that make up a cop's life. Now an acclaimed television series, this extraordinary book is the insider's look at what you have always wondered about.
Just in time for the elections, Arundhati Roy offers us this lucid briefing on what the Bush administration "really" means when it talks about "compassionate conservativism" and "the war on terror." Roy has characteristic fun in these essays, skewering the hypocrisy of the more-democratic-than-thou clan. But above all, she aims to remind us that we hold the essence of power and the foundation of genuine democracy--the power of the people to counter their self-appointed leaders' tyranny.
First delivered as fiery speeches to sold-out crowds, together these essays are a call to arms against "the apocalyptic apparatus of the American empire." Focusing on the disastrous US occupation of Iraq, Roy urges us to recognize--and apply--the scope of our power, exhorting US dockworkers to refuse to load materials war-bound, reservists to reject their call-ups, activists to organize boycotts of Halliburton, and citizens of other nations to collectively resist being deputized as janitor-soldiers to clear away the detritus of the US invasion.
Roy's "Guide to Empire" also offers us sharp theoretical tools for understanding the New American Empire--a dangerous paradigm, Roy argues here, that is entirely distinct from the imperialism of the British or even the New World Order of George Bush, the elder. She examines how resistance movements build power, using examples of nonviolent organizing in South Africa, India, and the United States. Deftly drawing the thread through ostensibly disconnected issues and arenas, Roy pays particular attention to the parallels between globalization in India, the devastation in Iraq, and the deplorable conditions many African Americans, in particular, must still confront.
With Roy as our "guide," we may not be able to relax from the Sisyphean task of stopping the U.S. juggernaut, but at least we are assured that the struggle for global justice is fortified by Roy's hard-edged brilliance.
Postwar America saw few changes to law enforcement in one hundred years. The little known San Francisco riot of August 1945 announced the violent events of the next half century. Most of the methods remained unchanged until the 1953 kidnapping of Bobby Greenlease in Kansas City, Missouri, that shook the country.
The 1960s were dominated by civil rights struggles and major riots. Watts, Detroit, and Newark demonstrated how local police departments were unable to handle the disorders that engulfed those cities.
The anti-war protest at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention is important to this narrative since the author was in charge of convention security. The police department was split on how to deal with the protestors: a major revelation of this book. The author also turned down an offer to become part of a unit later known as the "plumbers" made to him personally by Attorney General John Mitchell.
The 1970s and '80s are the lowest points in modern American law enforcement until the emergence of "zero tolerance" by New York Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 9/11 changes the landscape with the new focus on counter terror and new challenges to law enforcement.
Thomas Reppetto began as a police officer, rising to Commander of Detectives in the Chicago Police Department. In 1970 he received a PhD in public administration from the Harvard School of Government. He taught at the John Jay College of the City University of New York and became dean of graduate studies, then vice president. He is retired and lives in the New York City area.