Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 8, 2016
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"[A] harrowing [portrait] of life behind bars . . . Gritty, visceral . . . Senghor writes about the process of atonement and the possibility of redemption, and talks of his efforts to work for prison reforms that might turn a system designed to warehouse into one aimed at rehabilitation."
–Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“My first glance at the person on the book's cover—a dreadlocked, tattooed, heavyset black male—left me skeptical. Full of judgment. Why should I be interested in the story of a murderer? But as [Senghor's] words unfolded, so did my understanding—of what it means to fall short, to go astray, to lose your way . . . His story touched my soul.”
–O: The Oprah Magazine
"[A] powerful memoir."
“No one has forced us to look at the core questions about humanity and our broken criminal justice system with more authenticity and clarity than Senghor . . . If Senghor’s tale is any indication, redemption, mercy and grace aren’t just emotional ideals or spiritual buzzwords. They are the sharp, effective tools that can be used to rebuild lives and communities, one person at a time.”
–Erica Williams Simon, TIME.com
“Probably the most important book I've read in the past few years . . . Few people, sadly, come out on the end of two decades of hard time and find their way back to the life Shaka is now leading. Here, he tells us why that is, and why it doesn't have to stay that way.”
–Shaun King, New York Daily News
“Senghor’s story, laid bare, forces us to ask: is this not our fellow human being? Does he not deserve a second chance? If he failed himself in the most profound way, how did the rest of us fail him too?”
“Extraordinary . . . You will reconsider everything you’ve ever thought about poverty, the prison industrial complex and the connection between the two.”
“[An] inspiring book that gives hope for those who believe in the redemption of the incarcerated . . . Not the usual ghetto tale.”
"An extraordinary, unforgettable book. Writing My Wrongs is a necessary reminder of the deep humanity, vulnerability and potential that lies within each one of us, including those we view as 'thugs' or 'criminals'. Shaka's story illustrates that if we muster the courage to love those who do not yet love themselves, a new world is possible."
–Michelle Alexander, professor of law, Ohio State University, bestselling author of The New Jim Crow
“Shaka Senghor's terrific and inspiring book affirms that we are all more than the worst thing we've ever done. This beautiful and compelling story of recovery and redemption offers all of us powerful truths and precious insights as we seek recovery from decades of over-incarceration and excessive punishment.”
–Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, bestselling author of Just Mercy
“A profound story of neglect, violence, discovery, redemption and inspiration. Consistently touching and surprising, Writing My Wrongs is, ultimately, deeply hopeful. Prepare to have your preconceptions shattered.”
–J.J. Abrams, director, writer, producer
"Shaka Senghor is a once-in-a-generation leader, championing a cause that will define a generation: mass incarceration. Behind prison walls, Writing My Wrongs is already taking its place alongside the memoirs of Malcolm X and George Jackson as must-read literature. In the broader society, its publication will propel him into the ranks of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander—powerful visionaries whose words are shaking the foundations of our nation's understanding of itself."
–Van Jones, CNN contributor, bestselling author of Rebuild the Dream and The Green Collar Economy
“I basically read this book in one sitting and wouldn’t shut up about it for months. People would say to me, ‘Good morning. How are you today?’ And I’d just start talking about atonement and solitary confinement and recidivism. Shaka’s book reminds us of the great imperfections that remain in our nation, but his determination to move from community liability to asset reminds us that no life should be written off. We need this story. It isn’t pretty, but it is beautiful.”
–Baratunde Thurston, supervising producer, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, bestselling author of How To Be Black
"Essential reading for anyone who believes in the deeply spiritual and transformational power of redemption. Our nation must confront this concept to reach our own promise as a country. No matter who you are or where you've come from, this book holds strong, inspiring lessons and shows that the difficult pathway to redemption can bear abundant fruit for many. In the end we are all, no matter our path, more powerful agents of service than we realize."
–U.S. Senator Cory Booker
“If you’ve wondered what makes it possible for good people to do terrible things, and what a man can endure to reach redemption, then you must read this book. Senghor’s story is told with brutal self-assessment and tender attention to what makes profound change – in a person and also in our communities – not only possible but imperative. In this unforgettable memoir, Shaka takes us from the streets of Detroit into solitary confinement in prison, and against all odds, home safely and successfully to a family and community that needs him.”
–Piper Kerman, bestselling author of Orange is the New Black
"More than the proverbial 'We Fall Down/We Get Up' story. It’s a testament to the power of the mind, and the fact that none of us should ever be defined by our lowest point."
–Detroit Metro Times
“Delivered with a stark realism that is only occasionally relieved by humor and the bizarre characters [Senghor] encounters.”
-Herb Boyd, Amsterdam News
“Senghor's fearless self-reflection serves as a cautionary tale for the young and a guidebook for anyone seeking atonement. His lessons about owning your failures and taking accountability resonate in every walk of life, from the streets to the boardroom.”
–Mellody Hobson, president, Ariel Investments
“Writing My Wrongs is a gritty, no-holds-barred look inside the degrading world of American’s prisons and the inspiring story of how one man overcame the biggest obstacle—himself—to reclaim his life. Shaka’s painful journey from callous street thug to compassionate community activist is a roadmap for those who believe in the power of redemption.”
–Maurice Ashley, American chess grandmaster, author of Chess for Success
About the Author
Shaka Senghor, a member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, is a writer, mentor, and motivational speaker whose story of redemption has inspired thousands. While serving 19 years in prison, Senghor discovered redemption and responsibility through literature, his own writing, and the kindness of others. He is the author of six books, a former Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab, a Community Leadership Fellow with the Kellogg Foundation, and the founder of The Atonement Project, which helps victims and violent offenders heal through the power of the arts. He currently serves as the Director of Strategy and Innovation with #cut50, a bipartisan initiative to safely and smartly reduce the U.S. prison population in half by 2025, and speaks regularly at high schools, prisons, churches, and universities around the country.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
The biggest disappointment that came to me was the fact that America will spend more money on prisons than on schools. Senghor wrote, “One of the things I noticed when we pulled up was how neatly manicured the lawns were and how new the buildings looked. The prison stood in stark contrast to the dilapidated schools that sat like scabs across Detroit’s dying landscape… The state was more willing to invest money in the upkeep of prisons than they were in schools” (87). How could America be more willing to maintain the pristine look of prisons rather than invest towards a brighter future for the children of our country? This was a huge wake up call to me that I’m glad Senghor gave me. I have such a hard time dealing with the fact that instead of trying to keep youth off the streets and out of prison by putting more money into schools the state is trying to keep prisons in tip top shape because chances are always leaning towards arrested once, arrested again. How could keeping the places where people go to serve their time be more important than the place youth goes to learn the difference between right and wrong? The place they go to learn how to build their futures and to all that life has to offer. For some school is the only place they have to get away, and in places like Detroit when schools lack the funds they need to provide that positive atmosphere, youth turns to the streets, where most end up getting arrested and back into the prison game.
Shaka Senghor’s personal reflection through his time as a youth before he went to prison was a startling reality check to me. Every time he had the chance to leave his life on the streets he always ended up going back until finally it was too late. I always had hope for him when he said that he would be moving away and living with someone else away from the ‘hood. It made me so upset to read of the way he was living his life. Running away from home at the age of thirteen and living on your own? The first and only job he got was selling drugs to his friends? I work at a golf course selling food to people and get stressed out when people give me a hard time about their order. I cannot possibly imagine the stress and hurt that a thirteen-year-old boy felt selling crack on the streets of Detroit. Detroit is a harsh city to live in, and I never truly understood that until I read Shaka’s first hand experience. Along with pain and hurt from being away from and being forced to find acceptance in the streets was the desensitized sense of violence. Senghor wrote, “We were all desensitized to violence and accepted it as the way of the world we came up in. In fact, I don’t recall a time when my life wasn’t marred by violence” (97). To be so unaware of the effects of violence is not that far beyond me. With so much violence depicted in the media everyday, it is not that much of a surprise to me that more and more violence is happening. What is surprising however, are the effects it has on the people. Shaka and his friends had become so desensitized to violence that they would get drunk and high and continue to carry a gun when they were definitely not capable of making responsible decisions with them. If I had not read Shaka Senghor’s Writing My Wrongs, I never would have gotten this incredible first hand look into life on the streets, and how harsh and intense it was to live in a city like Detroit.
Throughout my experience reading Writing My Wrongs, I learned so much more about the experience a prisoner has during their sentence. At the beginning of his journey through prison, Shaka was full of hate and anger and didn’t know how to handle himself in stressful situations. He lashed out and got himself sent to the whole several times where he learned after awhile that the only person he can truly really on was himself. He read often to increase his intelligence and to simply pass the time, he also spent so much time writing down his emotions, coping through the hurt and anger. It was through these writings that he was able to reflect in upon himself and make the transformation into the person he wanted to be rather than the person he was when he entered prison. Senghor wrote, “So with pen and pad, I clung with my sanity; between that, writing letters to my family and reading their letters to me, I redeemed my soul” (249).
Reading Shaka Senghor’s Writing My Wrongs changed the way I perceive prisoners. I always forget that they are still people who made mistakes. They can learn from their mistakes if they truly put the effort into trying. A saying that rang true for me as I read this book was you get out of life, what you put into it. Not only for a person going through a huge transformation like Shaka, anyone who wants to see a change in their life has to put in the effort. This was a wake up call for me because I had been going through the motions for so long and now I have a feeling of hope that there are better things out there for everyone.
I want to help even more and agree with you. It's time my brother and I want you to know that we have brothers like you working in endlessly to make a difference.
Keep up the great work Shaka, please know you're a blessing to me and our brothers and sisters.
I felt the ending was somewhat lacking in content but really we/the system wasted years of Mr. Senghor's life by delaying his parole because of our discomfort of his behavior in one incident. If we lock up a man and treat him as an animal should we be surprised when he responds as any cornered caged animal would in the same circumstances?
Personal responsibility of our actions is an important life lesson. That is what this book is about. Now how do we teach this before crimes are committed and lives shattered? I think Mr. Senghor is on the right path to help his city and I wish him success and the help he needs to succeed in his mission.
Writing My Wrongs is about the power of hope, change, and redemption. It sheds light on the gritty reality of prison and the truth of mass incarceration.
An important, poignant and powerful book, which should get the hands of every youth in public schools, detention centers, and prisons across America.
*** I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.