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American Furies

Crime, Punishment, and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment

Author: Sasha Abramsky

How vengeance has replaced rehabilitation in our prisons—and its terrible costs

In this dramatic exposé 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? 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.
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“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

“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, author of All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated

Praise for Conned: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House

“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


Review: The Nation - August 27, 2007
American Furies provides us with a vivid account…”Read Full Review

Review: Sacramento News and Review - August 2, 2007
“Sasha Abramsky uses painstaking research, anecdotal evidence from inmates and tours of penal hellholes across the land to lock in American Furies.” Read Full Review
Review: The American Prospect - June 12, 2007
“It is with an exemplary and multifaceted grasp of the history and modern-day reality of incarceration that Abramsky is able to grasp the full context of why callous negligence and brutality so abound in the American prison system . . . American Furies is a brilliantly crafted piece of creative non-fiction replete with non-dogmatic, accessible, and lyrical prose . . . In the difficult realm of prison reporting, Abramsky is unquestionably among the best and brightest, and American Furies is clear evidence of such.”Read Full Review
Review: Publishers Weekly - January 22, 2007
“a well-researched book on a significant American problem that's often locked away behind bars.”

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American Furies

ISBN: 978-080704222-9
Publication Date: 4/1/2007
Pages: 240
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $25.95
Format: Cloth
Availability: Not currently available.
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