Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson
The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

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A book this long (571 pages, not including acknowledgments and footnotes) and bleak could have been unbearable, but every time its pages bog down, along comes a pick-me-up of an unexpected insight.
-NY Times

Synopsis

The first definitive account of the infamous 1971 Attica prison uprising, the state's violent response, and the victims' decades-long quest for justice—including information never released to the public—published to coincide with the forty-fifth anniversary of this historic event.

On September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, during the four long days and nights that followed, the inmates negotiated with state officials for improved living conditions. On September 13, the state abruptly ended talks and sent hundreds of heavily armed state troopers and corrections officers to retake the prison by force. In the ensuing gunfire, thirty-nine men were killed—hostages as well as prisoners—and close to one hundred were severely injured. After the prison was secured, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners during the weeks that followed. For decades afterward, instead of charging any state employee who had committed murder or carried out egregious human rights abuses, New York officials prosecuted only the prisoners and failed to provide necessary support to the hostage survivors or the families of any of the men who'd been killed.  Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century, exploring every aspect of the uprising and its legacy from the perspectives of all of those involved in this forty-five-year fight for justice: the prisoners, the state officials, the lawyers on both sides, the state troopers and corrections officers, and the families of the slain men.

(With black-and-white illustrations throughout)

“Superb . . . Gripping . . . Remarkable . . . Not all works of history have something to say so directly to the present, but Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, which deals with racial conflict, mass incarceration, police brutality and dissembling politicians, reads like it was special-ordered for the sweltering summer of 2016.” —Mark Oppenheimer, The New York Times 


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Heather Ann Thompson

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HEATHER ANN THOMPSON is an award-winning historian at the University of Michigan. She has written on the history of mass incarceration, as well as its current impact, for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, Salon, Dissent, New Labor Forum, and The Huffington Post. She served on a National Academy of Sciences blue-ribbon panel that studied the causes and consequences of mass incarcerations in the United States and has given Congressional briefings on this subject. Thompson is also the author of Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City and editor of Speaking Out: Activism and Protest in the 1960s and 1970s.
Author Residence: Detroit, MI
 
Published August 23, 2016 by Pantheon. 752 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, Crime. Non-fiction
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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Mark Oppenheimer on Aug 18 2016

A book this long (571 pages, not including acknowledgments and footnotes) and bleak could have been unbearable, but every time its pages bog down, along comes a pick-me-up of an unexpected insight.

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