As a favor for a friend, a bright and talented young woman volunteered to read her poetry to a group of prisoners during a Black History Month program. It was an encounter that would alter her life forever, because it was there, in the prison, that she would meet Rashid, the man who was to become her friend, her confidant, her husband, her lover, her soul mate. At the time, Rashid was serving a sentence of twenty years to life for his part in a murder. The Prisoner's Wife is a testimony, for wives and mothers, friends and families. It's a tribute to anyone who has ever chosen, against the odds, to love.
Kaneko Fumiko (1903-1926) wrote this memoir while in prison after being convicted of plotting to assassinate the Japanese emperor. Despite an early life of misery, deprivation, and hardship, she grew up to be a strong and independent young woman. When she moved to Tokyo in 1920, she gravitated to left-wing groups and eventually joined with the Korean nihilist Pak Yeol to form a two-person nihilist organization. Two days after the Great Tokyo Earthquake, in a general wave of anti-leftist and anti-Korean hysteria, the authorities arrested the pair and charged them with high treason. Defiant to the end (she hanged herself in prison on July 23, 1926), Kaneko Fumiko wrote this memoir as an indictment of the society that oppressed her, the family that abused and neglected her, and the imperial system that drove her to her death.
In 1999, the tenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, leading dissident Jiang Qisheng was given a four-year sentence for inviting the Chinese people to light candles to honor the victims. Drawn with indignant intensity from Jiang’s time in prison, his memoirs offer compelling observations of two of the three modern, “civilized” Beijing jails in which he was held. Along with intriguing vignettes of his fellow prisoners, Jiang describes both brutally dehumanizing conditions and rare moments of unexpected kindness. Prisoners, used as slave labor, become “skinned” through malnutrition and exhaustion, while facing new depths of mental degradation. Throughout, however, Jiang retained his dignity, detached and perceptive intelligence, and concern for his fellow sufferers, guards included. Writing in his signature light and ironic style, Jiang’s stories of prisoners, who come from the most primitive and impoverished layer of Chinese society, are related with vividness, insight, humor, and compassion. Dismayed by their fatalistic docility, the author asks, “Where lies China's hope? Can democracy ever take root in China?” The answers, surely, lie in the voices of those, like Jiang, who dare to speak out.
163256: A Memoir of Resistance is Michael Englishman’s astonishing story of courage, resourcefulness, and moral fibre as a Dutch Jew during World War II and its aftermath, from the Nazi occupation of Holland in 1940, through his incarceration in numerous death and labour camps, to his eventual liberation by Allied soldiers in 1945 and his emigration to Canada. Surviving by his wits, Englishman escaped death time and again, committing daring acts of bravery to do what he thought was right—helping other prisoners escape and actively participating in the underground resistance. A man who refused to surrender his spirit despite the loss of his wife and his entire family to the Nazis, Englishman kept a promise he had made to a friend, and sought his friend’s children after the war. With the children’s mother, he made a new life in Canada, where he continued his resistance, tracking neo-Nazi cells and infiltrating their headquarters to destroy their files. Until his death in August 2007, Englishman remained active, speaking out against racism and hatred in seminars for young people. His gripping story should be widely read and will be of interest to scholars of auto/biography, World War II history, and the Holocaust.
Suburban raised, Ivy League educated, Amy Friedman is a newspaper columnist whose life seems charmed until the day she visits a penitentiary seeking to learn how prisons operate. Inside, to her own and everyone else's surprise, she begins to fall in love with a man serving year 7 of a 13 to Life sentence for murder. And yes, Will is guilty. Ultimately, she marries Will behind prison walls and becomes part of a world once entirely unknown to her.With his two daughters at her side, her life becomes a battle against prison officials and politicians, a struggle to keep the family afloat, and a steep climb in learning how justice works, and for whom. For seven years, with help of Will's young daughters, friends who stand by her and some new friends like One Woman Army author Claire Culhane, Amy works towards Will's parole. When Will is released, he is unprepared for life outside. As he disintegrates, so does the marriage. What remains in its wake is a sadder, wiser woman, a strong bond with the girls she has helped to raise, and deep and hard-won wisdom about both justice and love.
Elizabeth Fry (née Gurney, 1780-1845) was descended from two wealthy Quaker banking families. Her Quaker faith was crucial to her adult life and she became active in social reform. Despite having eleven children, she was active in community work, and became a Quaker minister. Persuaded to visit the women's wing in Newgate Prison in 1813, she was appalled at the conditions in which the prisoners, and their children, lived. She became a pioneer in seeking to improve the situation for women in prisons and on transportation ships. The British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners was probably the first national British women's society. Fry's ideas on the humane treatment of prisoners influenced international legal systems. This memoir, based on her letters and diaries, was edited by two of her daughters, and was first published in 1847. Volume 2 covers the period from 1826 to 1845.