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No More Prisons Paperback – September 15, 1999

4.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Following the successful release of his first self-published book (Bomb the Suburbs), Wimsatt finds more issues to rant about in his latest collection of essays, some of which have appeared in such publications as the Utne Reader and the New Haven Advocate. In some of his most lucid writing, the self-proclaimed "cool rich kid" takes on the American penal system and its emphasis on punishment at the expense of hope and rehabilitation. However, much of that section's impact is lost when Wimsatt suddenly turns guru: "For every road and zoo and gated community and fence and lock and alarm system and prison we build, we are installing another prison cell in our hearts." In "Homeschooling and Self-Education," he tries for the anarchistic, mocking tone that yippies Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman made famous in the late 1960s, charging that American education fosters a host of maladies, including passivity, dullness, eating disorders and self-hatred. His scorn for white class privilege, greed and the "sterility" of suburbia surfaces in several of his more challenging short pieces, notably in an informative interview with David Rusk, the former mayor of Albuquerque, N. Mex. The interviews with various activists and politicos that dot the book are often more thought-provoking than the pat sarcasm in Wimsatt's tirades against the enemies of hip-hop and socially responsible philanthropy. Irreverent, occasionally hilarious, but distracting in its obsession with the artistic shortcomings of his previous book, Wimsatt's new work offers a strange, affecting glimpse into the head of a Gen-X cultural maverick. (Feb.)

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Wimsatt's (Bomb the Suburbs) short, acerbic, solution-oriented essays recall the Sixties countercultural movementAbut with a Generation X sensibility. His new book recounts his evolution from idealistic urban wanderer/graffiti writer to community organizer and full-fledged writer. He chose his title to promote a hip-hop CD of the same title produced by the Prison Moratorium, a nonprofit organization supporting young activists working to reverse the alarming expansion of our demoralizing "prison industry." Wimsatt thinks that Generation X could surpass the Sixties generation in effectiveness. What is needed, he argues, is political youth organizations with "hyper-grassroots" involvement using pop culture innovations such as hip-hop to raise consciousness. His zany writing is a refreshing voice for Generations X-style activism.AChogollah Maroufi, California State Univ., Los Angeles
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 165 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press; 1st edition (September 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887128425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887128421
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,244,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Heath Row on November 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book takes a look at many themes and topics -- urban life, self-schooling, hip-hop activism and leadership, the cool rich kids movement and grassroots philanthropy, a hitchhiker's approach to community organizing. Any one could have been expanded in to a book of its own. As a followup to Bomb the Suburbs, No More Prisons is less focused and much delayed (Some of the writing inside dates back to '95, if not sooner.) but still an inspirational and instructive read. And despite the book's wide range of topics, the fact that Upski so firmly espouses the philanthropic tip is a beautiful and encouraging thing. Makes me think I'm not doing enough... for enough people... in enough places. Another reviewer has it totally right: No More Prisons is the kind of book that you keep buying and handing off to friends, family, and other people you want to turn on. There are few books that I buy multiple copies of at the same time. This is one of them.
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Format: Paperback
After reading about 1/4 of this book, I just couldn't put it down and finished the rest in one sitting. It's that amazing. Don't be fooled by the title, this book has very little about actual prisons. In fact only the first 12 pages or so are about actual prisons, the rest of the book uses the metaphor of a prison to show how society largely traps us.
The section on homeschooling is amazing. Prior to reading this book I had always just thought of school as the only path for a kid. I didn't even know that it was possible to go to college without going to either a public or private high school (although, now that I think about it it does seem that the kids who win the national spelling bee each year are usually homeschooled). And there are numerous other topics covered in this book.
This book is a hip hop book, but I feel this really needs clarification. Hip hop is one of the most misunderstood concepts in recent time. Hip hop is not about making money, it is about universal brotherhood (and is in many ways similiar to zen buddhism). There is a fundamental difference between hip hop and rap. Rap is what most people think of when they think of hip hop, which is a shame because people like Puff Daddy have nothing in common with hip hop (people like Afrika Bambaata).
Oh well, enough with my rant about hip hop. If you live in an urban center this should be required reading. If you believe that there is nothing you can really do to make a difference for the better, read this book and see if you still feel the same way.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Half-way through this book, I realized I had to call the publisher and buy 100 copies and go sell them on the streetcorner. Much more coherently organized and presented, and more eloquently written, than Bomb the Suburbs. Upski is the Obi Wan Kanobi of the underground/punk/hip-hop writing scene. Not just a lot of information and good stories, but inspiration and numbers and websites and addresses and names of books that you need to do all the stuff you'll want to do after you read this. Don't resist the force... run to your local independent bookstore and pick up a copy now.
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Format: Paperback
If you really care about the issues presented in this book, you'd better educate yourself with more in-depth books exploring them. I enjoyed the book and am very glad that it exists. My only misgiving is that it isn't nearly complete in it's arguments. Don't go fighting with someone that knows much more about the topics than you do after you read it. Especially regarding Home schooling, his arguments just don't stand up against my teacher parents, and several friends. That being said, the book is truly inspirational and completely worthy of a read, if only to help spawn your own ideas and get yourself excited about things.
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Format: Paperback
This book is not "for hippie-rich-white people" as other reviewers might have you believe, although it does speak mainly on how the rich can use their resources to help improve society. It has a different focus than Bomb The Suburbs, which is also a great book, as it is has less focus on "what's wrong" and more on "what can be done". Very interesting, and highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I'm sure there's a whole flock of teenagers making this book their Bible. Wimsatt has that "edge" people my age love, with chapters talking about self-schooling, challenging others, and making goals for yourself. Some of his writing is actually pretty inspriring stuff. I'm particularly fond of his 19-step self-schooling process, which works as good ground-rules for anybody, out of college or not. However, most of the chapters are sloppily written and seem to lack authority at times (although this could just be the author's style). Overall, a good place to start if you care about inner-city issues.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this in paperback years ago when it initially came out, but lost it. So, I was absolutely thrilled to find an electronic copy available on Amazon, especially considering it's not a "mainstream" publication. It was also a very cheap buy which was obviously a ++. The social, cultural, and political topics covered in the book, (though written some time ago), are just as relevant, (perhaps even more so), in today's world. William Upski Wimsatt's story- telling style, plus his persona as portrayed by his writing style, make this a very fun, engaging, and thought- provoking read. GET IT!!!
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