In the Place of Justice

In the Place of Justice

3.99 (421 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback
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Winner of the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Non-Fiction

In 1961, young, black, eighth-grade dropout Wilbert Rideau despaired of his small-town future in the segregated deep south of America. He set out to rob the local bank and after a bungled robbery he killed the bank teller, a fifty-year-old white female. He was arrested and gave a full confession.

When we meet Rideau he has just been sentenced to death row, from where he embarks on an extraordinary journey. He is imprisoned at Angola, the most violent prison in America, where brutality, sexual slavery and local politics confine prisoners in ways that bars alone cannot. Yet Rideau breaks through all this and finds hope and meaning, becoming editor of the prison magazine, going on to win national journalism awards.

Full of gritty realism and potent in its evocation of a life condemned, Rideau goes far beyond the traditional prison memoir and reveals an emotionally wrought and magical conclusion to his forty-four years in prison.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 134 x 214 x 36mm | 498.95g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Main
  • Illustrations, maps
  • 184668434X
  • 9781846684340
  • 314,917

Review quote

A book that moves without letup to an ending that's alive with suspense -- Elmore Leonard A series of stunning journalistic revelations... quite simply, no prison memoir in recent memory contains prose as deft or as riveting -- David Friend * Vanity Fair * This is a breathtaking and, ultimately, triumphant story of rehabilitation through endurance and courageous journalism.It is also a searing indictment of a broken, corrupt penal system that does far more damage than good to our society as a whole. This is an extraordinary book. -- Ted Koppel * BBC * To hold in your hand a book like this is a small miracle. Rideau's endurance and strength of spirit are an amazement, models for all humankind. I found his story to be utterly gripping and it will not be giving anything away to say that I have not read such a happy ending in a long, long time. -- Ted Conover, author of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing Candid ... poignant... Rideau is the rarest of American commodities - a man who exited a penitentiary in better shape than when he arrived -- David Oshinsky * New York Times Book Review * Incisive ... Rideau commits a fair amount of real journalism in this memoir. That is, he names names - wardens, fellow prisoners, guards - and tells stories as straightforwardly as he can. His account of life in Angola is an important one ... the ending of In the Place of Justice is as low-key, but as emotional, as any words I've read in a long time -- Dwight Garner * New York Times * Riveting ... amazing ... the picture of prison life painted by Rideau isn't the one portrayed in many movies. There is violence and brutality, especially for the weak ... but Rideau mostly shows that prison is a place where people are still living their lives ...amazingly, after the fear, the periods of isolation, and the hate he experienced, Rideau was able to lead a productive life and help others. Now he has provided a wonderful chance to share his remarkable life -- Mary Foster * Associated Press * Engrossing, searing, and often heart-rending, this stunning narrative is ultimately about transcendence: how Wilbert Rideau overcame childhood misery, perversions of justice, and the darkness of imprisonment to become the rare man who could write such a book. -- Richard North Patterson, author of The Race In The Place Of Justice is beyond a doubt the most intimate look at life behind bars that I have ever come across. Like any fine piece of journalism, the book is neither an apology nor an excuse for bad deeds; it is simply the record of a life lived, and all the bad choices and wrong turns that come along with that. Rideau writes with brutal honesty about the walls - both literal and figurative - that imprison us all, and the courage required to break free. * Attica Locke *
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About Wilbert Rideau

Wilbert Rideau has won many journalism awards. He was editor of the Angolite, the first prison publication to be nominated for a National Magazine Award. It was nominated seven times under his editorship. He also co-directed the documentary The Farm which was nominated for an Oscar. He now lives in Louisiana.
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Rating details

421 ratings
3.99 out of 5 stars
5 36% (153)
4 36% (153)
3 20% (84)
2 5% (23)
1 2% (8)
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