Notorious Prisons: An Inside Look at the World's Most Feared Institutions
Notorious Prisons examines in detail the most brutal and infamous prisons in history, with depictions of original plans; descriptions of the construction, facilities, and policies; and a recounting of what general life for the prisoners was like. The most interesting inmates in each prison are highlighted, describing their crimes, trials, and experiences within the prison. In the Alcatraz section, for instance, are convicts like Robert Stroud, the "birdman," who inspired the film starring Burt Lancaster. There is an account of the Rosenbergs, and descriptions of what it was like for them to arrive at Devil's Island.
Here, too, are the details of escapes, like the only near-successful attempt to break out of Alcatraz, perpetrated by the Anglin brothers--a couple of career criminals who dug their way with a spoon through the plaster walls of their cell, then followed a thirty-foot-tall vent to freedom, leaving papier-mache decoys in their cells.
Then there are the punishments, like the guillotine at the Bastille. And the wrangle over the first electric chair, installed at Sing Sing--including a recounting of Thomas Edison's gruesome campaign, waged at the expense of test cats, to convince the public that AC was more deadly than DC.
Prisons exist at the strange intersection of cruelty and civil society, and no book has ever detailed the odd excesses of this union as well as Notorious Prisons.
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