Cell 2455, Death Row: A Condemned Man's Own Story

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Da Capo Press, Mar 25, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 336 pages
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In June 1948, 27-year-old petty criminal Caryl Chessman was sentenced in California on two counts of sexual assault, receiving two death sentences as punishment in a case that remains one of the most baffling episodes in American legal history. Maintaining his innocence of these crimes, Chessman lived in Cell 2455, a four-by-ten foot space on Death Row in San Quentin for the twelve years between his sentencing and eventual execution. He spent this time, punctuated by eight separate stays of execution, writing this memoir — a moving and pitiless account of his life in crime and the early life that produced it. Chessman's clarity of mind and ability to bring his thoughts directly to the page, even within the stifling walls of San Quentin, help make this work the most literate and authentic expose ever written by a criminal about his crimes.
 

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Contents

Death by Legal Execution
3
Hells Anteroom
12
The Twig
17
The Twig Is Bent
23
And Bent Still More
33
Fear
42
The Inevitable Implosion
52
Its Better to Be Anything than Afraid
59
A Game of Cops and Robbers
173
The Game Grows Grimmer
184
The Beginning of the End
191
Deus Ex Machinawith a Twist
205
Operation Adolf
226
The Pull of the Orbit
239
Stone Walls Do a Prison Make
252
O Villain Villain Smiling Damned Villain
265

Conquest and the Wall
69
Sonny Boy Keep on Like Youre Going
80
A Reformation Factory
87
I Can Kill
94
And He Ran Faster
100
Apparently You Didnt Learn Your Lesson
113
CUILIBET IN ARTE SUA PERITO EST CREDEMDUM
127
A Peculiar Art
129
A Being Darkly Wise and Rudely Great
135
The Fool and the Madman Were One
145
But This Wasnt Fiction
155
The Dark Nights Children
160
DAMNANT QUOD NON INTELLIGUNT
271
Three Times and Out?
273
A Fool for a Client
281
What Do You Think about It Now Sucker?
295
Something New in the Way of Villains
308
The Check on Chessman
314
This Thing Galled Judicial Justice
320
Kill Him if You Can
326
A Victory None Would Comprehend
331
An Awakening
341
The Return from Outer Darkness
350
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About the author (2009)

Caryl Whittier Chessman (May 27, 1921 – May 2, 1960) was the man convicted for supposedly being the "Red Light Bandit," who was known for robbing women in their cars and sometimes forcing them to perform sex acts. Chessman was given the death penalty in 1948 and executed in 1960, but he claimed his innocence, and argued this convincingly, until the end. His case attracted world-wide attention and as a result he became the first cause célèbre of the movement to ban capital punishment.

Joseph Longstreth, Caryl Chessman's literary agent, made this and Chessman's other books possible.

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