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My Soul Said to Me: An Unlikely Journey Behind the Walls of Justice Paperback – February 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: HCI (February 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0757300642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0757300646
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,589,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part personal memoir and part narrative of a groundbreaking prison literacy program, this book will probably be compared to Helen Prejean's Dead Man Walking. While in marital counseling, Roberts, a dentist and stunt flyer, realized he wanted to make dramatic changes in his life. He returned to school to pursue a doctorate in psychology and became interested in the work of self-help gurus including M. Scott Peck. He then helped start a project at Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, La., with 50 prisoners, where he befriended one of the prisoners, who helped him run the program. Roberts writes of being genuinely moved as the prisoners discuss their experiences. The rest of the book outlines Roberts's overwhelmingly positive experiences at the prison until the warden starts sabotaging his efforts. Ultimately, Roberts's life is dramatically transformed by his prison work, and he ends up starting Project Return, a community-based program. Roberts's emotional attachment to his work is evident in his strong, evocative writing. The narrative isn't without flaws: the introspection about middle-age crisis feels tired, for instance. Yet this worthwhile, important book offers a bright, optimistic window onto the often horrific conditions that still exist in prisons today.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

Spiritual journeys sometimes take us in a direction we never considered. Bob Roberts’ led him downward, to shovel ashes from the smoldering fires of hatred and racism in a Louisiana prison, in a circle of fifty angry men.

Roberts had everything—a successful dental practice, a wife and children, and a comfortable, affluent lifestyle. He was a thrill-seeker who sought the adrenaline rush of stunt flying and racecar driving. Then something happened: much as the death-spiral moves he executed in his plane, his life spun out of control. He sought counseling to repair his failing marriage, sending him along a completely different path. While in therapy, Roberts became intrigued by the human psyche and its capacity for healing and went back to school to earn masters degree in clinical social work and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. Here he became connected with the community-building work of renowned psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck. Peck mentored Roberts and encouraged him to begin his spiritual journey through exploring this type of work. Roberts decided to try the community-building process out in the unlikeliest of places: Louisiana’s Dixon Correctional Institution. Here his life was forever transformed, as would be the lives of hundreds of inmates and former offenders.

In this compelling memoir, you will be propelled with Roberts into an unforgettable journey behind prison walls. It is an astonishing voyage into Roberts’ heart and his conscience through the experiences of society’s forgotten people—repeat offenders who had lost all hope of making a life for themselves outside of jail. What began as a literacy program evolves into sessions of shared soul-searching, grief work, and a celebration of prisoners’ ancient cultural roots through drumming and traditional African storytelling. Set amidst the brutality and humiliation of prison, together they find a haven for healing and transformation; to the rhythm of the collective drumbeat they discover the unique song within themselves that had been silenced by years of abuse, addiction, self-hatred and hostility.

Exploring the darkest terrain of violence and human suffering, and the brightest regions of redemption, human dignity and hope, My Soul Said to Me will change forever your view of criminal justice, your appreciation of deep relationships and freedom, and your ability to determine your own future. It is a story of deceit and honesty, cowardice and courage, prejudice and acceptance. Most importantly, it is the story of the power of friendship and the ability that lies within each of us to create beauty in the world through commitment, determination, and the understanding that all of our souls came here for a reason.


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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
An authentic journey shared with passion.
Balázs Tivadar
It's one of those books that will make you question your "comfort zone".
"peace_withn"
Help yourself to hope by reading this book.
Marcia Nelson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Suzanna Connick Jamison, MSN, RN, CS on February 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Dr. Roberts' description of the prisoners with whom he worked was sensitive and empathy-provoking. His ability to connect with people whose background and experiences were so different from his own was truly respectable. His keen perception of the rehabilitation potential in the most rough and violent people is inspiring to others who work in helping professions. The story itself was fascinating; Dr. Roberts kept me really interested in the characters and what was going to happen next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard D Engling on May 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is fascinating. I read it in a weekend. It's the story of a man who transforms his life. Bob Roberts was a successful dentist in the New Orleans area who had a personal crisis prompt him to change. He gave up a wealthy lifestyle and ended up founding an organization called Project Return that helps ex-cons make the transition to a legitimate life in society. It seems most ex-cons end up committing further crime and returning to jail. The graduates of his program have a huge success rate at staying out of trouble.
The book gives some interesting insight into the "Drug War." One of its inadvertent results is that you have non-violent drug users arrested and sent to jail where they are so brutalized that when they are released, they sometimes turn violent, usually against someone more helpless than them -- a child victim perhaps.
However, this is not a grim book. It's a pleasure to read. There's a lot that is inspiring and hopeful. Parts are funny and triumphant. I really enjoyed it and endorse it wholeheartedly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Victor M. Moss on September 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
MY SOUL SAID TO ME intimately engages you in the vision and mission of transforming the criminal justice system into a contributing and restorative justice power for good. Currently the system costs billions, destroys lives, and inflicts more pain than healing on everyone in United States. In his own life's journey, Bob Roberts shares "keys to open the doors" of the prison industrial complex in ways that can solidly change lives and communities in a pro-social, cost-efficient,and collaborative manner. The reader is captured by Robert's life and work and how he has impacted thousands of people to become contributing citizens. Clearly, the replication of his project could help tens of thousands of lives. It is said, "an educated consumer is our best customer." Today the American public is the consumer that needs educating. This book, if read by the masses, can shift the correctional industry into an evolutionary and restoring direction, as well as, personally impact the life of every reader. MY SOUL SAID TO ME is an inspiring journey of life, love, community, and commitment. I am recommending this book to everyone. People (offenders,staff,families) caught in the quicksand of the criminal justice system most often live in a culture without hope or "a way out." To paraphrase the book, could there be a greater vision or mission than to give hope to someone that he or she is still valued as a human being? Bob Roberts gives all of us, the hopeless and the hopeful, hope. Audre Londe's words best describe Robert's philosophy at every crossroad in his life: "When I dare to be powerful...to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid..." In Robert's story of life you will find the truth applies to all aspects of our life and to all people in our society, even those in unlikely places. I share his call for a return to community.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Humann on November 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
I found this book by accident when i was searching for more infos about life in Americas prisons. I got this book with the intention to read sometimes a few pages because my time is very limited . it turned out that I had to run to work for to be not too late because always when I spent my time with this book I forgot everything else around me.

That's just how interesting this book is. Fascinating to me was the fact that with each page I read, I found my own thoughts or a proof of the things I already knew .

I spent the last 6 years with communicating with prisoners in America. Often it is hard to believe what's going on in these places. Some people may find it hard to believe what Mr Roberts has to tell within this book but I can assure everybody that everything you read is true and based on real life .

Mr Roberts changed his whole life for to bring some changes to a few people .I hope everyone who reads this book gets an idea of how serious the criminal and justice problem in America really is and starts to help to make a change

PS: For everyone from Germany , you can order the book by amazon.de.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "peace_withn" on November 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
It's one of those books you will NOT be able to put down once you start. It's one of those books that will make you cry with sorrow AND cry with joy. It's one of those books that will inspire you to pursue your calling. It's one of those books that will make you question your "comfort zone". It's one of those books that expose the sadness and ignorance of our nation (both behind and in-front-of the walls). It's one of those books that will "effect dramatic change toward harmony in our culture" when/if we allow ourselves to be as compassionate, brave, and committed as Dr. Bob Roberts. IT'S A MUST READ!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Marcia Nelson on April 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I met Bob Roberts at a conference he hosted a few years ago. This book is as compelling and fierce as I expected. In forsaking comfort to find his own soul, Bob also found a way to help society's outcasts -- prisoners -- discover their own dignity and humanity. These stories are the real thing: messy, poignant, energizing. So few people do this work; so many should know that it can, and is, successfully being done. Help yourself to hope by reading this book.
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