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Live from Death Row


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After a bizarre shooting of a policeman and an equally bizarre trial, Abu-Jamal was convicted of murder and sentenced to Pennsylvania's death row. Twelve years later, he is still there, although new evidence has been found to support his innocence. This volume is a collection of his writings, which, for the most part, document the atrocities of prison life. The reader may sympathize with Abu-Jamal's plight and even question his guilt in the shooting but will probably find this book fragmented and sketchy. Instead of a continuous narrative, Abu-Jamal offers brief notes drawn together under one theme. Good prose is drowned by ravings and accusations. One can see why Abu-Jamal's commentaries on National Public Radio were abruptly canceled. The book will probably not be of value to public or academic libraries. It might be of use in correctional facility libraries where readers are interested in the case.‘Frances Sandiford, Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, N.Y.

A rare and courageous voice speaking from a place we fear to know: Mumia Abu-Jamal must be heard.--Alice Walker
A tough, true, timely book. You cannot read it and remain unmoved.--E.L. Doctorow
An important book [that] takes us into the bowels of hell...Abu-Jamal offers expert and well-reasoned commentary on the justice system...His writings are dangerous.--Village Voice
Brilliant in its specificity and imperative, Mumia Abu-Jamal's work is about why multitudes of people don't overcome. It rings so true because he has not overcome.--LA Weekly
Resonates with the moral force of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter From Birmingham Jail.--Boston Globe

A former Philadelphia radio reporter, on death row since his 1982 conviction for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer‘in a flawed case he's trying to reopen‘Abu-Jamal gained attention last year when National Public Radio rescinded its plan to broadcast his commentaries. This collection of brief writings, including some intended for NPR, presents a bracing challenge to complacent views about crime, race and incarceration‘and surely deserved airing. ``Encased within a psychic cocoon of negativity, the bad get worse and feed on evil's offal,'' he writes, noting the irony of the term ``corrections.'' In the postindustrial age, he comments, America is the world's prison leader, and crack's devastation of black America reminds him of the impact of alcohol on Native Americans. Abu-Jamal is a radical, and while his view of the government's attacks on the Branch Davidians and on the Philadelphia radical group MOVE is appropriately skeptical, his uncritical support for Black Panther Huey Newton and MOVE may dismay even those sympathetic to his general critique. (May)

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