A Prison Diary: Vol. 1
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A Prison Diary: Vol. 1 : Hell

By (author) Jeffrey Archer

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'The sun is shining through the bars of my window on what must be a glorious summer day. I've been incarcerated in a cell five paces by three for twelve and a half hours, and will not be let out again until midday; eighteen and a half hours of solitary confinement. There is a child of seventeen in the cell below me who has been charged with shoplifting - his first offence, not even convicted - and he is being locked up for eighteen and a half hours, unable to speak to anyone. This is Great Britain in the twenty-first century, not Turkey, not Nigeria, not Kosovo, but Britain.' On Thursday 19 July 2001, after a perjury trial lasting seven weeks, Jeffrey Archer was sentenced to four years in jail. He was to spend the first twenty-two days and fourteen hours in HMP Belmarsh, a double A-Category high-security prison in South London, which houses some of Britain's most violent criminals. Hell, the first volume in Archer's The Prison Diaries, is the author's daily record of the time he spent there.

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  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 112 x 174 x 24mm | 140.61g
  • 24 Jul 2003
  • Pan MacMillan
  • Pan Books
  • London
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Reprints
  • 0330418599
  • 9780330418591
  • 9,849

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Author Information

Jeffrey Archer, whose bestselling novels span from Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less to Kane and Abel and The Eleventh Commandment, has sold over 120 million books throughout the world. In 1992 he was elevated to the House of Lords. In August 2001 he was sentenced to four years in prison for perjury. During that time he wrote three Prison Diaries. He is married with two children.

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Review text

The cover boldly announces that this is the diary written by Prisoner FF8282 - which must be a rare moment of anonymity from Jeffrey Archer. He's always been renowned for his ability to reinvent himself, but Archer the prisoner must surely have been one of his more difficult reincarnations. This is the first in a series of three diaries all written from prison, and it offers a day-by-day account of his first 22 days as a prisoner at Belmarsh high-security jail. Presenting himself in the most flattering light throughout, Archer gives us insights into his day - the hours he is locked up, the institutional food he struggles to eat, the bartering system and the creative-writing classes he is asked to run for other prisoners. As you would imagine, he remains centre stage throughout, but he does use the diary to highlight other people's stories, many of which are moving in themselves and shed important light on Britain's underclass and criminal justice system. He also addresses the massive problems of drug problems and staffing shortages, the fine line between punishment and rehabilitation, and the statistics that show people often leave prison suffering from more problems than they entered with. Whatever your attitude to Archer the man, his prison diaries will certainly reach a wide audience, which can only be a good thing in terms of generating knowledge about the social and prison reforms that could go some way to reversing the miseries he relates. (Kirkus UK)

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Customer reviews

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The Prison Diaries by Jeffrey Archer are just "unputdownable". A first hand account of life in a British prison and a terrible insight into the blossoming drug problems facing the youth of today. A very good read by a master story teller. Highly recommendedshow more
by frances bollard