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Escape from Alcatraz Paperback – April 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; New edition edition (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580086780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580086783
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Dramatic...thrilling...remarkable..." -- Los Angeles Times

"Much more than a prison chronicle, much more than a tale of escape...." -- Chicago Tribune --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Publisher

*The true-crime classic first published in 1963 is reissued in this special edition.
*Includes archival photos of the prison and prison life.

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

On most levels, the book is well put together.
JMack
I was captivated from the first by Mr. Bruce's description of Frank Morris being transported to Alcatraz to begin his life there as a prisoner.
Crime Novelist
If you are interested in Alcatraz you need go no further than reading this book - it is really that good !
Dudley Ristow

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. Scott on September 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
Most people know of Escape from Alcatraz from the movie staring Clint Eastwood. However, the famous prison has enjoyed a long and colorful history.
Written by J. Campbell Bruce, a San Francisco Chronicle newspaperman for over forty years, the book delves into the history and social significance of Alcatraz Island. Beginning with its discovery and subsequent use by Native Americans, the book takes us through the island's history as America's "unescapable" prison.
The books most recognizable chapter, by far, deals with the mystery shrouding the prison's most famous escape attempt. This section of the book became the basis for the film Escape from Alcatraz.
The book is very intersting as a historical account of both the island and the San Francisco Bay Area. It comes highly reccomended from this reader.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JMack VINE VOICE on July 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Escape from Alcatraz would be more appropriately named The History of Alcatraz. On most levels, the book is well put together. The number of misspellings is grotesquely unacceptable, but the content is reasonably thorough.

The book begins at the discovery of the San Francisco island by Spanish settlers and continues through the closure of the prison. The book documents each of the attempts to break out of Alcatraz. Unfortunately, no inmate is confirmed to have escaped alive from The Rock. Many of The Rock's most famous inhabitants are discussed including Al Capone. I particularly enjoyed the stories of how the inmates passed their time. Bootlegging took on a new meaning in Alcatraz when inmates made pruno. Pruno often included such exotic combinations as milk and gasoline.

The book is concluded with the closure of the prison. There is no doubt that Alcatraz was a brutal prison that drove some men insane and others to suicide. While it was not a deterrent to crime, it was an effective punishment for crime. Had the condition of Alcatraz not deteriorated so much since the Civil War, it may still be punishing criminals for there crimes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dudley Ristow on February 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Escape from Alcatraz depicts the full history of this infamous prison stronghold. It reflects how life was on the Rock and details the circumstances when and how 23 convicts attempted or succeeded in escaping from the island prison - the latter few never to be ever seen or heard of again. If you are interested in Alcatraz you need go no further than reading this book - it is really that good !
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nino Brown on September 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
J. Campbell Bruce tells the story of the famous island in San Francisco Bay from its "discovery" in the late 1700's to its decommissioning in the 1960's. Understandably, the story focuses on the lurid period during which Alcatraz was a brutal prison for America's most difficult prisoners. Given its reputation for inescapability the story of Alcatraz features several daring (and some not-so-daring) attempts to escape. Receiving special attention is the attempt by Frank Morris and two accomplices that may or may not have been the sole successful escape from the Rock. The Frank Morris story, with undoubted debt to this book, later became a legendary motion picture under the same name as this book.

While far from exhaustive, Escape From Alcatraz provides a brief and interesting history of Alcatraz. Some fascinating stories are given only brief mention, e.g. the story of the children of Alcatraz's employees who were raised on the island, most of the relevant players and events are touched upon. The book's special focus on mobster-era prisoners and, especially, possible escapee Frank Morris are understandable and, in fact, quite well done. The narrative of the Morris escape, in particular, reads like a potboiler. Some of the discussion of Alcatraz notables, however, feels a bit gossip columny - more name dropping than content. All in all, a good and quick read for anyone looking for only a brief dip in the frigid waters surrounding Alcatraz.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Crime Novelist on November 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was the background for the Clint Eastwood film "Escape From Alcatraz". I thought it would be a good book for info on that breakout.

It is much more than that. This book surprised me in two ways.

First of all, as a nonfiction book, I did not expect it to be written so that it reads like a novel. It is really well done. I was captivated from the first by Mr. Bruce's description of Frank Morris being transported to Alcatraz to begin his life there as a prisoner. I started turning pages and was transported along with the prisoner - through the rain and fog to that dismal prison.

The second surprise was all the history Mr. Bruce put into the book that went way beyond just this one escape. The book turned out to be a real bonus in that regard. He sketches the history of the island and the area, and then goes into some of the background history of Alcatraz.

It's a great read all the way around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Big Turkey on April 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
J. Campbell Bruce was a student of my father and a friend. It's a great book that seemed to be ignored after the movie came out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By fasteddy on February 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Escape from Alcatraz is a good read it takes about fellows that tried or did escape from the place and it also talks about the hard life living in alcatraz
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Love details on January 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have always been interested in and fascinated with anything that took place on Alcatraz. This book gives "light" unto every day living on the "rock".
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