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Shattered Lives: Portraits from America's Drug War Paperback – December 1, 1998
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"Shattered Lives argues its points poignantly and persuasively, putting a human face on the drug war better than anybody could have wished for. This is an important and timely book, and the authors deserve a lot of credit. I really do believe that if more people saw this book and spent even just ten minutes reading through it, there would be a shift in public acceptance regarding continuing the 'drug war'.
"Shattered Lives deserves to be viewed as much as read, and it is the sort of book that needs to be displayed on everybody's coffee table rather than put away on a bookshelf. Ideally, this book will get the public response it so well deserves." -- Paul Armentano, The Leaflet, Dec. 3, 1998
"Shattered Lives is a must - a wake-up call to every American. The book is beautifully designed with photographs and stories of ordinary people caught in the web of drug war excesses. Show it to people who think we need a drug war! Compare the 'crimes' with the punishments. See how freedom and justice vanish from America. For each person caught, a whole family suffers. A great gift idea." -- Clifton Thorton, Efficacy, November 1998
"Shattered Lives pages are bursting with pictures and sidebars. The designers have done a nice job. If only high schools were using it as a workbook. (A replacement for DARE, perhaps?) It was written for and in part by the poor souls devoured by the war on drugs. Many of the sidebars were written by current inmates. Their accounts and accompanying photographs are touching, to say the least.
"It dawned on me after finishing Shattered Lives that the way to end the drug war was right there in those pictures. All those families torn apart, all those innocent people steamrolled by the government. The government is creating the enemy army right now. Once enough people are victimized, it's only a matter of time before this army starts to march." -- Jonathan Ellis, Liberty magazine, February 1999
"Shattered Lives is an incredible book. I challenge anyone to read it and not be moved, both emotionally and intellectually." -- Louie Free, WASN radio personality, Youngstown OH, Dec. 13, 1998
"An everyman's edition of People magazine. Clearly written and concisely structured, the book's ten chapters rely on photographs to help tell the subjects' stories. The pictures, both color and black-and white, show warm and compassionate human faces attesting to the otherwise cold hard facts of the Drug War's inhumanity. The snapshots prove that Drug War prisoners of war belie criminal stereotypes. Sure, there are a few youthful Deadheads and dreadlocked Rastas, but suburban soccer moms, grandma and grandpa types and plenty of blue-collar workers also find themselves behind bars, mainly because of mandatory sentencing laws.
"Not only do the short profiles of each defendant keep the reader browsing along at a quick clip, humor also reiterates the human element in Shattered Lives, with section headings such as "Urine the Money," an expose of the burgeoning drug testing industry." -- Russ Tarby, Syracuse New Times, Nov. 4-11, 1998
"An intelligent and thorough new book by Mikki Norris, Chris Conrad and Virginia Resner, Shattered Lives lays it all out and provides plenty of food for thought." -- Joanne Forman, New Unionist, Minneapolis MN, Dec. 1998
From the Publisher
We have spared no expense to produce this book, which we think is one of the most important books of our era, because it dares to discuss issues that the powerful and the media have chosen to sweep under the rug. This information is shocking, but vital to every American citizen, judge, policymaker and journalist.
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Please offer proof next time such as an in depth look into a specific court case to prove our legal system doesn't work. I suspect if you do drugs or sell drugs you will like this book and have one more complaint with "big brother". I guess people shouldn't be accountable for their actions.
This book was written in a very personal way, with most of the pages dedicated to the individuals who are Prisoners of War, languishing behind bars as the result of America's unethical war on drugs. These people are not criminally- minded in any way and many of them were falsely imprisoned in the first place. But our political leaders in Washington do not seem to care at all. They continue to send non- violent individuals to prison and continue to fight the War on Drugs even though all indicators show the war was lost decades ago and can never be won.
Some of the cases depicted in this book will shock the average reader. One good example is millionaire Donald Scott, who was shot dead by U.S government drug enforcement agents after the agents received false information and proceeded to raid Scott's home without a warrant. The real motive behind this, it seems, was the seizure of Scott's property. He owned a parcel of land that the government wanted, but he refused to sell. By creating a phony drug charge, government police had an excuse to raid his home and seize his property. Of course, there were no drugs found because Scott was not a drug user at all. But government officials seized his property regardless and refused to return it, or to make any apology to the family. Yet another case of outrageousness involved Melinda George. She was caught trying to sell a tiny amount of cocaine- one- tenth of a gram, to be precise. But because of mandatory minimum laws, she has been sentenced to 99 years in prison. Convicted murders get shorter sentences than this.
Then, there are sentences that are unjust and tragic. The best example here is Mr. Lonnie Lundy. He is spending decades in prison, as part of a false testimony. Another person who was caught with drugs was offered a lighter sentence if he agreed to snitch on someone else. So, the man falsely accused Lundy, and got his own sentence reduced, while Lundy, an innocent man, was sent to prison. Later on, this other man openly admitted that he lied, but government authorities will still not let Lundy out of prison.
The purpose of this book is to make people outraged by showing the reader the tragedies of America's War on Drugs. Most of the book contains pictures of Drug War POW's, many of them with their families. Each photograph includes the victim's age, the sentence they are serving, and the "crime" they committed. Some also include stories of how the government unethically sent them to prison and how drug laws have destroyed their lives and the lives of their families. And there are often quotes included from children who want their mother or father back. The book is intended to invoke emotion by letting people see and get to know some of the real victims in the drug war- the members of the families of those who are sent to prison each year for committing a victimless crime.
This book is a quick read, with only 118 pages. In many ways, its size and emphasis on photos makes it seem more like a magazine than an actual reading book. It's a quick and easy read because most of the pages are filled with pictures. It doesn't contain much debate or anti- drug war education as other books of its genre, mainly because it is too brief and because the pages are covered mostly with pictures. Its goal is to get people outraged by showing dozens of examples of lives that have been destroyed more by drug laws than by the drugs themselves.
The last two pages of Shattered Lives include resources for activist organizations, complete with addresses, phone numbers, and the web site address for each. Interested readers can call or logon to the web site to begin their activist work. It's an appropriate ending to a book that has an obvious agenda: To stir readers' emotions by showing them the innocent victims of the failed drug war and to gain new anti- drug war activists in the process.
Overall, Shattered Lives is an effective book that could have been even more effective with more written words on the costs and failures of America's longest war. It would also be nice if it was a little bit longer. But this is still a good book for everyone that vividly illustrates what happens when government attempts prohibition.
By introducing the reader to numerous tragic victims of this "war", it totally shatters the many myths and misconceptions created by our "czar" ( don't you love it! A Czar in this "free" country? ) and his henchmen, and it shows that what we have here is not at all unlike the insanities of Hitler and his Nazzi robots a few decades ago. The photographs from the book are all too real, and I find it almost impossible to look at them without then experiencing the flood of tears - from both intense anger and from compassion -that flood my eyes. But if this is what is needed to get Americans off their buffs and onto the streets, protesting at the tops of their lungs the injustices and the travesties of this assanine "war on drugs", so be it! We need to start winning our country back, and "Shattered Lives" will point us in the right direction! Bravo for a magnificent book!