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Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than fourdecades in solitary confinement—in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours aday, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana—all for a crime he did notcommit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinaryendurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was ableto emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systemsis a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reformthe inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.
Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in hisearly twenties to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitmentand code of living, Albert was serving a fifty-year sentence in Angola for armedrobbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and anothermember of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitaryconfinement by the warden. Without a shred of actual evidence againstthem, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary.Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteenmore years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released inFebruary 2016.
Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him insolitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers,Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as theybecame known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity andcorruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. He survivedto give us Solitary, a chronicle of rare power and humanity that provesthe better spirits of our nature can thrive against any odds.
Publishers Weekly (starred review) ‘This breathtaking, brutal, and intelligent book will move and inspire readers.’
‘This breathtaking, brutal, and intelligent book will move and inspire readers.’
‘An important story for these times…An astonishing true saga of incarceration that would have surely faced rejection if submitted as a novel on the grounds that it never could happen in real life.’
‘Sage, profound and deeply humane, Albert Woodfox has authored an American testament. Solitary is not simply an indictment of the cruelties, absurdities and hypocrisies of the criminal justice system, it is a call to conscience for all who have allowed these acts to be done in our name.’
‘Solitary is the stunning record of a hero’s journey. In it a giant, Albert Woodfox, carries us boldly and without apology through the powerful, incredibly painful yet astonishingly inspiring story of a life lived virtually in chains. He is, as readers will learn, a ‘Man of Steel.’’