From Publishers Weekly
To some, Abu-Jamal, convicted in the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer, is a cold-blooded cop killer, but to his supporters, the death-row inmate is a hero, wrongly condemned by a racist system. In this collection of forceful prison essays and radio talks written over the last decade (a sequel to Live from Death Row and Death Blossoms), former Black Panther Abu-Jamal maintains that he was targeted by the state because of his political beliefs and associations. He cites a recent Amnesty International report that calls for a new trial on the grounds that his 1982 trial was riddled with procedural errors and quite possibly contaminated by racism. Hanrahan, director of Prison Radio (which aired several of these commentaries after Abu-Jamal was pulled off the air by NPR's All Things Considered), describes Abu-Jamal's life in solitary confinement as a living hell and accuses prison authorities of constant harassment and censorship. Whatever one thinks of Abu-Jamal's guilt or innocence, his attack on capital punishment as a discriminatory, racist practice is compelling, as is his critique of our bloated prison system, which, according to an American Bar Association report cited here, is self-defeating because dehumanizing conditions produce more criminals. An outspoken political analyst, Abu-Jamal condemns Clinton's adoption of NAFTA, calls the war on drugs largely a "War on Blacks" and offers incisive commentary on rap music, the decline of African-American community life, police brutality and recent developments in Mexico, Peru, Iran and South Africa. (May) FYI: A CD accompanies the book, featuring Abu-Jamal's radio essays plus comments from Alice Walker, Cornel West, Martin Sheen, John Edgar Wideman and others.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Abu-Jamal, a gifted and controversial Philadelphia journalist, was sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of a police officer, a crime, as Alice Walker writes in her foreword, "millions of people around the world" believe he did not commit. Abu-Jamal has not suffered the injustice of his nearly 20-year incarceration on death row in silence. He has written two previous books, both widely read and discussed, and by virtue of the power of his lucid voice and humanistic point of view, he was invited to contribute commentary to National Public Radio's All Things Considered in 1994. His work was never aired, however, because the network gave in to pressure from then-Senator Bob Dole and the National Fraternal Order of Police. Abu-Jamal has also suffered governmental retribution for his insistence on being heard, but he continues to write eloquent and indelible essays about the failings of the courts, so-called correctional facilities, and the media. This collection brings together 75 of those pieces, accompanied by a CD of his banned radio recordings. When Abu-Jamal is censored, everyone's civil rights are threatened. Donna Seaman
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