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In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir (P.S.) Paperback – June 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1 Reprint edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061351636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061351631
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (319 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Following conviction for bank fraud, White spent a year in a minimum-security prison in Carville, La., housed in the last leper colony in mainland America. His fascinating memoir reflects on the sizable group of lepers living alongside the prisoners, social outcasts among the motley inmate crew of drug dealers, mob types and killers. Narrating in colorful, entertaining snapshots, White introduces the reader to an excellent supporting cast in his imprisonment: Father Reynolds, the peerless spiritual monk; Mr. Flowers, the no-nonsense case manager; Anne, the sorrowful mother with leprosy whose baby was taken from her arms; and Ella the Earth Mother, with wisdom to spare. Brisk, ironic and perceptive, White's introspective memoir puts a magnifying glass to a flawed life, revealing that all of life is to be savored and respected. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* White was a successful magazine publisher in 1993 when he was convicted of fraud and check kiting and sentenced to prison in Carville, Louisiana. He knew he was facing 18 months without his wife and two young children; he knew his enormous ego and ambition had landed him in prison; he knew he had to figure out a way to save his marriage and somehow rebound financially. What he didn’t know was that the isolated 100-year-old facility at Carville was home to a leper colony of 130 patients. He learned that the patients (some severely disfigured and disabled) and the 250 inmates eyed each other suspiciously across the corridors and breezeway, each thinking the other was the scourge of the earth. Because his work detail brought him into frequent contact with the patients, White developed strong relationships with them. His favorite was Ella, a dignified and beatific elderly black woman, who had lived at Carville for more than 50 years. Among the inmates, White encountered counterfeiters and tax evaders along with drug traffickers and carjackers. When the Bureau of Prisons decided to evict the leprosy patients, tensions built on both sides. White, near the end of his sentence and struggling to come to grips with the consequences of his crime, is caught in the middle. He offers a memoir of personal transformation and a thoroughly engaging look at the social, economic, racial, and other barriers that separate individuals that harden, dissolve, and reconfigure themselves when people are involuntarily thrust together over long periods. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It is a true story about some really interesting characters.
Ray Walker
Neil White gives his first-hand account of this remarkable mixture of residents at the facility while he was housed as a prisoner at Carville.
S. R. Wilson
At first glance, this may not look like a book that is worth the investment of time to read.
Music Lover

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By John Werner VINE VOICE on June 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An educated white collar family man ends up a convicted criminal because of criminal behavior...Sadly, this is hardly remarkable. When said man ends up in a federal prison inside the United States first and last national leprosarium, The Carville Federal Medical Facility, well, it is not only remarkable, but quite unbelievable. The life of Neil White took just such a turn and "In the Sanctuary of Outcasts" chronicles that journey. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.

Neil White was guilty before he ever had a criminal lapse. Guilty of idealism, arrogance, and materialism all of which, unbridled, fatally clouded his judgment. In the end those traits, and a few others, contributed to not one, but two collapsed businesses-each involving criminal activity - the last being of such a magnitude prosecution was guaranteed.

So the real journey begins when Neil's father drops him off at what he assumes is a minimum security federal penitentiary. When Neil realizes he is among the last segregated group of Americans with leprosy he feels as if he has stepped into a nightmare. Locked down among criminals in a leper colony and made to do menial labor for outcasts so isolated they literally no longer exist in the world Neil knew. Plus, he is surrounded by an odd assortment of criminals, which he is now one, who have been deemed of less value than lepers. Could it get worse? It did as Neil soon learned his wife was dissolving their marriage. Somehow through all of this Neil must seek to mend his own broken self and find redemption of his past and a meaningful path for his future.

In all of the darkness outlined above there lies a truly remarkable story. As things formerly held so dear are removed, Neil begins to see that which really does hold meaning.
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81 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Carter Hooper on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful, interesting, lively and surprisingly moving account of Mr. White's time as a prisoner served at the leprosarium in Carrville, LA. Haven't met a cast of characters this colorful since Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil. Lively, extremely interesting not only for the info about leprosy and the weird circumstances that brought a federal prison and a leprosarium together, but also a sweet accounting of Mr. White's personal trials, discoveries and eventual redemption. It's a first-class page turner.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Jojoleb VINE VOICE on May 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"In the Sanctuary of Outcasts" is Neil White's bittersweet memoir about serving time in Carville Prison in the late 1990s. Carville prison was no ordinary, white-collar penitentiary; it was also the last leprosarium ("leper colony") in the United States. Sentenced for kiting checks, White has to overcome the humiliation of his conviction, guilt for betraying friends and family, his crumbling marriage, and his initial revulsion of the patients suffering from leprosy.

Quite surprisingly, White finds a certain solace in this place. Although he initially believes that he is a cut above the other inmates, he realizes that he has far more in common with his fellow convicts than he previously believed. He also develops close relationships with the leprosy patients who help him through the hard times and whose inner strength give White the courage to look inside himself and the courage to ask for forgiveness.

White is able to convey his story effectively. He evocatively describes his life at Carville and the reader has no difficulty imagining what it was like to be there. He describes his fellow inmates and the patients with leprosy with compassion, humor, and dignity. He convincingly tells us how his time in prison transformed him, how he becomes a better person because of this experience.

White is a storyteller. He doesn't dwell on the philosophical. His revelations come through stories and we are able to see White through his own eyes and through his interactions with his fellow inmates, the patients, and his family. This makes the book as easy to read as it is meaningful.

One caveat, of course, is that the book is written solely from White's point of view.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By C.E. VINE VOICE on June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Aside from the fact that I had never heard of Carville, nor that I didn't even know that the country had a leper colony, this book isn't really chock full of any new revelations.

White did a good job of describing his surroundings and his feelings about his incarceration. What I haven't been able to figure out is how the idea of mixing inmates in with civilians ever got started. Nor do I understand how the "patients" would have agreed, in speaking with quite a few of them, their feelings were made known plainly about how they didn't like the living situation and how they wished the author and the other prisoners were elsewhere. It motivates me to do some research on my own.

While not really a journal of his time there, this book serves more as an insightful journey in just what it means to be comfortable in your own skin, what is important, and why we care so much about what others think about us in return. White met some interesting characters and even more interesting prisoners in his stay at Carville some 10+ years ago.

If you are looking for an expose of the penal system and judicial misdoings, move along. This book isn't written that way. If you happen to be looking for a moral tale, a book about friendship, redemption, and forgiveness, then this one will work for you. I have half a mind to head out to Carville for a vacation to see this historic property (it is now a museum) and a great sadness at not having had the pleasure of ever getting to meet Ella, a wonderful character and if half as interesting in real life as she was on paper, a remarkable human being as well.

Not a stellar entry into literature, but not a waste of time either, this book is charming, easy to read, and intriguing.
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