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Among Murderers: Life after Prison Hardcover – February 12, 2013


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Among Murderers: Life after Prison + Too Cruel, Not Unusual Enough + A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520272854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520272859
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,102,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A deeply compassionate book that poses urgent questions about the end product of imprisonment and the social thirst for vengeance.”
(Kirkus Reviews 2013-04-01)

“Notably free of policy jargon, Sabine’s work is about real people and the stories they have to tell.”
(Theodore Hamm Brooklyn Rail 2013-03-27)

“It will set readers thinking and possibly wanting to do more research on the subject.”
(Frances O. Sandiford Library Journal 2013-03-15)

"This book is more than a tribute to the men interviewed: it asks us to test ourselves on our capacity for forgiveness and then to consider penal power’s capacity to destroy the self."
(Laura Piacentini Times Higher Education 2013-06-06)

"If you are looking for a soul touching, look no further and pick up this book. You won’t be let down."
(San Francisco Book Review 2013-06-06)

"Offers glimpses of a world unfamiliar to most of us and offers the opportunity to begin an honest dialogue about crime, rehabilitation, and reentry."
(Marshal Zeringue Page 99 Test 2013-05-29)

"Clear, engaging prose throughout the book provides many thought-provoking insights into the nature of rehabilitation, forgiveness, and redemption by looking at real people who have faced the challenges of re-entry from prison to free society . . . aims a fresh spotlight on the problems and challenges faced by the millions of people who have been released from America's prisons."
(Joel Freedman Finger Lakes Times 2013-06-27)

"Heinlein puts a face to a population that evokes strong feelings while remaining largely unfamiliar. Among Murderers is an eye-opening look at life after prison and our society’s thirst for vengeance."
(Amanda Green Rumpus 2013-10-17)

From the Inside Flap

Among Murderers is a remarkable achievement, an eye-opening work of journalistic empathy in the best tradition of Katherine Boo, Ted Conover, and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. In studying the cases of these three just-released convicts, Sabine Heinlein raises significant policy and philosophical questions about crime and punishment and the nature of "rehabilitation." This is a triumphantly humane work of reporting and storytelling.”—Scott Stossel, editor at The Atlantic and author of the award-winning Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver.

"With this unsentimental yet deeply empathetic look at the lives of ex-cons struggling to make it on the outside, Sabine Heinlein establishes herself as the Orwell of rehabilitation, American-style."—David Samuels, contributing editor at Harper's Magazine and contributor to The Atlantic and The New Yorker.

“Sabine Heinlein's Among Murderers is a remarkable, clear-eyed portrait of three men trying to create lives for themselves after serving decades of hard time as punishment for having committed the ultimate crime. Working in the journalistic tradition of Joseph Mitchell and A.J. Liebling, Heinlein brings these men to life as fully-realized, fascinating if flawed characters. Heinlein's readers won't be able to think of crime or punishment in the same way.”—Robert S. Boynton, author of The New New Journalism

Among Murderers joins a small but important group of literary books that take an intimate look at murderers. Detailing individuals’ painful steps and difficult quotidian lives as they try to find a place on the outside and come to terms with their crimes, this book has much to tell us about crime and punishment in America today.”—Sam Swope, Dean of the New York Public Library's Cullman Center Institute for Teachers


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Customer Reviews

Anyone who believes that our prison system is broken absolutely must read this book.
Mike B
This book sheds an eye-opening light onto a broken system that desperately needs more public awareness and support.
Amazon Customer
Impeccably researched and emotionally shattering, Heinlein's book is an indictment of our criminal justice system.
Mark Dery

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lori Salmon on March 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I finished reading 'Among Murders' this weekend. It was a thoughtful point of view on individuals that few care to know anything about. The author definitely revealed the emotional aspect of the incarcerated population without getting lost in facts and statistics. It was sad at times but still very witty. This book is much needed in the conversation because the prison population is comprised of many types of people that are outcast to society because of social stigma. Angela Davis's mantra on "liberating minds as well as liberating society" is quite poignant here because ALL people need to be supported in our communities and we need to hear these stories. This perspective is much appreciated. Thank you!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Meaghan on February 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book really grabbed me. I just intended to leaf through the pages but found myself unable to put it down, to coin a cliche, and read it straight through. Sabine Heinlein follows two years in the lives of three people who were convicted of murder, spent decades behind bars and just got released from prison into a world they no longer recognize. You get to see her subjects as human beings, not monsters, although she doesn't mince words about their crimes. She also talks a great deal about the "reentry" system (the programs for recently released prisoners) and its problems and the things it does right. I learned a lot from this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Dery on May 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Rough justice, brutal truth: Sabine Heinlein's AMONG MURDERERS puts a human face on the prison-industrial complex. In the tradition of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's RANDOM FAMILY, this fastidiously reported, in-the-trenches hybrid of narrative nonfiction and investigative reporting looks at the costs, personal and social, of mass incarceration in the country that cages more of its citizens than any other nation on Earth (yes, including North Korea). Obama's silence on this subject, especially in light of incarceration's disproportionate effects on black men and the poor, is simply criminal, a moral obscenity. Impeccably researched and emotionally shattering, Heinlein's book is an indictment of our criminal justice system.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christine W. Kuan on March 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Heinlein has an incredible ability to weave feelings, facts, and storytelling into a captivating experience. For those of us not familiar with this subject, she takes an unflinching look at the very difficult problem of long-term incarceration in the United States and humanizes it. Her writing is skillful and reflects her deep empathy for her subjects and her thorough knowledge of this area. A must read for anyone who cares about how our society evolves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mike B on March 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Sabine Heinlein's "Among Murderers" is a remarkable feat in empathy. Far from exploiting her subjects for shock value or amusement, Heinlein presents very nuanced and moving portraits of three men who have committed murder but who are still real people with rich interior lives full of hopes, fears, struggles, confusion, loneliness, remorse, and even moments of profound beauty. Heinlein describes how these men struggle to make sense of their freedom after decades behind bars; even the simplest tasks like crossing a busy street or washing clothes can be daunting and overwhelming. But the author aims to do more than elicit our pity. We also see that these men can write poems, appreciate art, and articulately give shape and sense to their circumstances.

At the same time, Heinlein balances this empathy with a clear-eyed look at the crimes that these men committed and the difficult journey they must take to accept responsibility for their acts and to understand why they did what they did. It's an amazingly fine line for a journalist to walk -- humanizing murderers while also never letting them off the hook for what they've done -- but Heinlein makes it look easy.

Perhaps the most important thing about "Among Murderers" is that these portraits all serve to give a human dimension to the very serious problem of prison and punishment in the United States. This issue is all too often seen only in the abstract. We live in a country that has five percent of the world's population but 25% of its prisoners, many of them held in conditions that even our Supreme Court has come to regard as cruel and unusual punishment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Isabelle S. Dupuis on January 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A vivid description of the challenges the "outside" world presents to those who have spent most of their lives behind bars This book also gives an exact description of the daunting task of rehabilitation and the many flaws and shortcomings of the systems that have been set up to in the hope of giving former prisoners a chance to make it on the outside. A far cry from a dry sociology treatise, Heinlein's beautiful and fluid writing and her honesty when addressing her own ambivalent feelings regarding the unforgivable acts her subjects have committed make this a must read.
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