A Prison Diary: Vol. 1

A Prison Diary: Vol. 1 : Hell

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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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 112 x 174 x 24mm | 140.61g
  • Pan MacMillan
  • Pan Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Reprints
  • 0330418599
  • 9780330418591
  • 27,045

Review Text

Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare, a.k.a. Prisoner #FF8282, offers his view of life in the slammer after serving the first three weeks of a four-year sentence. Archer, once Conservative candidate for Mayor of London and author of many a popular potboiler (Sons of Fortune, 2003, etc.), scarcely refers to the offense that took him from his Albert Embankment home to HMP Belmarsh, London's high-security prison, along with murderers, drug-dealers, and a football hooligan. He does not mention that his sentence was for perjury, forgery, and obstruction of justice. We hear more about the nasty judge who punished him, though, and he's mightily affronted about his treatment. The accommodations, the bedding, and the food are viewed with disdain and our diarist subsists largely on bottled water, digestive biscuits, and Spam. Clearly, he's a man of elevated sensibilities and, as he would have it, fellow cons generally forswear dirty words in deference to his Lordship. Indeed, according to his report, most hold him in warm esteem. Prisoners, identified by name and crime ("Tony [marijuana only], Billy [murder]," and so forth), they ask for autographs and advice and, in turn, offer protection, extra eats, and doleful tales of stealing, dealing, and buggery. Still a concerned citizen, our Peer notes that "there are going to be some speeches I will have to make should I ever return to the House of Lords." Meanwhile, he knows whom to address. "Are you still paying attention, Home Secretary?" When not concerned with prison procedures or politics outside (or filled with cricket gibberish), this is about the author's persecution. It's prefaced, naturally, by Ernest William Henley's "Invictus." Archer may indeed be captain of his soul, but mastery of his fate, for a bit, was at the command of one Mr. Justice Potts. Be on notice: Archer is a known recidivist. He will write again. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Jeffrey Archer

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.show more

Rating details

2,892 ratings
3.58 out of 5 stars
5 20% (591)
4 34% (989)
3 31% (908)
2 11% (315)
1 3% (89)

Our customer reviews

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
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