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Prison: Five Hundred Years of Life Behind Bars Hardcover – Illustrated, January 21, 2009
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About the Author
Edward Marston is a renowned writer of historical fiction and non-fiction. His most recent books include The Iron Horse (2007), and John Christie ( 2007) for The National Archives. He taught drama in prison and has a strong interest in penal conditions and reform.
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1905615337
- ISBN-13 : 978-1905615339
- Item Weight : 1.35 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.69 x 1.16 x 9.55 inches
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Academic; Illustrated edition (January 21, 2009)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,464,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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For what purports to be a history, it fails to give any explanation for the extraordinary changes that took place from the end of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth, and indeed it ignores the whole of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries but for chapters on conscientious objectors and the end of the death penalty. It also misrepresents Winston Churchill, suggesting that he, as Home Secretary, helped maintain a bad system when in fact he was the most activist of all holders of that office, even more so than Robert Peel, in terms of driving major reforms.
As for the errors, they are legion, and below are only some of the most egregious
Torture did not take place in prisons, or not at least state-sponsored torture. Torture was prohibited at common law and was deployed under royal prerogative not to get confessions but to find out the names of co--conspirators. Peine fort and dure was not used as a punishment but as a means of getting a defendant to enter a plea so that they could be put on trial.
Franchise prisons were not abolished by the 'Act to Abolish Franchise prisons' of 1852 as no such act existed in that or any other year, but by the Franchise Prisons Abolition Act of 1858.
Convict prisons were not places where strict separation was enforced. Silence was but not separation, otherwise, without gangs working together, the great public works upon which many convicts worked would never had been built.
Suffragettes were not political prisoners, as English gaols had not held such for many years. They were not imprisoned for their beliefs but for their criminal acts of arson, slashing paintings, destroying national treasures. Many other women were active in the suffrage movement without resorting to terrorism. Would the author think that the IRA were political prisoners or that the murderous, psychopathic blasphemers of ISIS who have besmirched the good name of Islam are?
Ivor Novello was not imprisoned in Wandsworth prison but in Wormwood Scrubs. Indeed the piano he donated remains in its magnificent chapel to this day. He was not broken by the four weeks he served there as he was rescued by the chaplain who put him in charge of the chapel choir for the duration of his short stay..
And the omissions. It seems odd that the borstal system is hardly mentioned nor the role of Sir Alexander Paterson, the most influential prison commissioner of them all. There is nothing about Lionel Fox, the Mountbatten Report, the Barlinnie Special Unit, Grendon and so on.
This is a book better not written, and better not produced under the aegis of the National Archives.