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Willow in a Storm: A Memoir Paperback – September 28, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scarletta Press; 1 edition (September 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 097652015X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976520153
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,478,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Early on, Taylor somberly informs his readers that "most men do not survive four decades of incarceration," a foreboding revelation that sets the stage for this riveting life story. An unflinching examination of his crime-a bank robbery and homicide committed at age 30-and his resulting conviction, incarceration, spiritual growth and eventual emancipation 40 years later, this tale proves emotional, forthright and inspirational. Writing with the help of his wife, the halfway-house counselor he met after his release from prison at age 70, Taylor looks back without self-pity or regret, making the casual cruelty he endures and his straightforward survival strategies all the more chilling. Smart, determined and hopeful, Taylor makes use of his prison days learning the law and helping out his fellow inmates, "so they would not turn on me while I slept." Also resonant are murky scenes of a painful adolescence spent with an emotionally abusive father, his only adult accomplices-beloved Uncle Louis and Grandma Taylor-having succumbed to early deaths. That Taylor eventually finds peace, going so far as to "thank God for confinement because it gave me time to change," speaks to the enormous heart of this honest, affecting account.
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Review

"An unflinching examination of his crime—a bank robbery and homicide committed at age 30—and his resulting conviction, incarceration, spiritual growth and eventual emancipation 40 years later, this tale proves emotional, forthright and inspirational...Taylor looks back without self-pity or regret, making the
casual cruelty he endures and his straightforward survival strategies all the more chilling." — Publisher's Weekly

"A compelling tale of crime, punishment, and redemption. Taylor's raw memoir exposes both the terrible injustices of an inhumane prison system and the power love can wield in its midst." — Minneapolis Quarterly Observer

"I was stunned by Willow in a Storm… This harrowing and inspiring story [is told] with class, directness and honesty." —Sister Helen Prejean, anti-death penalty activist and author of Dead Man Walking

"The story at the heart of Willow in a Storm is compelling—a window onto a world that many people have never considered." —Laura Stemple, former Executive Director, Stop Prison Rape

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Harrison on December 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Parts of this book are very compelling. The story is good, the writing is somewhat lacking. There are too many details, names etc. that take away from the flow. Mr taylor's life leading up to prison was not as interesting to me as his actual life in prison. I felt like I was being jerked in and out of the story line. There were areas of this story that made you want to get to the next page and there were areas that made you want to skip a page. It is hard to explain, however, in spite of the numerous detours and digressions, I would probably read it again.
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Format: Paperback
James Peter Taylor's memoir, Willow in a Storm, attests to the incredible strength required to weather the stream of injustices launched at him over and over again through decades of incarceration. First arrested in 1950 for impersonating an FBI agent to retain the privilege of keeping his date out late, Taylor began a series of petty crimes that resulted in repeated confinements until his spree spiraled into the unthinkable: murder. Though he never intended to commit such a heinous crime, events transpired which resulted in Taylor taking the life of a banker in a botched robbery attempt. His case became the springboard for one man's political career, and Taylor was subsequently imprisoned for the maximum length of time possible. Attempts at parole were repeatedly denied through strategic maneuvering on the part of prison officials.

Willow in a Storm chronicles Taylor's life, from his earliest memories through his time spent in various correctional facilities, to his current state of affairs. While he repeats many times that his early life events are not justification for his criminal behavior, he does try to explain the various reasons he feels contributed to his precarious behavior. In his twenties, he began a pattern of using women and throughout his life, left a trail of failed marriages and fatherless children behind.

Taylor's prison years detail the various forms of abuse inflicted upon him by fellow inmates, as well as guards. He gives the reader an intensive tour of an inmate's daily regime and the constant threats faced. An important fact the author notes is that only three percent of those given life sentences actually complete those sentences to be released. The rest die of natural causes or more likely become victims of prison violence.
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By Rosemary on January 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book. It is not about prisons or penitentiaries. It is the story of a soul, the creation of a life.
I by chance met Kathleen and Jim at their book reading and knew I was in the presence of a powerful, spiritual, loving man. I am deeply touched by his choice and determination to create a life of purpose, of being useful, being kind and generous. He is an example of light existing in perhaps the darkest place of our country in our time, our penal system.
I have been in ministry most of my life, and one wonders what difference am I really making? I am deeply touched first by the impact of the chaplain in the Hennepin County Jail, Rev. Leo Vetvick, and even more by Larry Nelson, Supervisor of Education at the US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. "This man saw in my eyes something good and he invited me into his domain as a potential contributor." (p.63) It is clear to me, it was their seeing goodness in Jim, their look and words of love that called forth in Jim, and made that profound difference in how he chose to live his life.
I am reminded of Vicktor Frankl in the concentration camps, as described in his book, Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl says in those terrible conditions that he was free, and the guards were not. Jim lived Frankl's description of freedom. It is not freedom from coercion or control; it is inner strength, a freedom to choose making a difference, contributing, not being vengeful and retaliating, even in the most extreme circumstances.
I honor James Peter Taylor for choosing life, a life of listening to his own heart in horrendous circumstances, creating a life of freedom, generosity, courage, service, peace, hope and love. Powerfully inspiring.
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