Blood in the Water

Blood in the Water The First Definitive Account Of The Infamous Attica Prison Uprising, The State S Violent Response, And The Victims Decades Long Quest For Justice Including Information Never Released To The Public Published To Coincide With The Forty Fifth Anniversary Of This Historic EventOn September Nearly , Prisoners Took Over The Attica Correctional Facility In Upstate New York To Protest Years Of Mistreatment Holding Guards And Civilian Employees Hostage, During The Four Long Days And Nights That Followed, The Inmates Negotiated With State Officials For Improved Living Conditions On September , The State Abruptly Ended Talks And Sent Hundreds Of Heavily Armed State Troopers And Corrections Officers To Retake The Prison By Force In The Ensuing Gunfire, Thirty Nine Men Were Killed, Hostages As Well As Prisoners, And Close To One Hundred Were Severely Injured After The Prison Was Secured, Troopers And Officers Brutally Retaliated Against The Prisoners During The Weeks That Followed For Decades Afterward, Instead Of Charging Any State Employee Who Had Committed Murder Or Carried Out Egregious Human Rights Abuses, New York Officials Prosecuted Only The Prisoners And Failed To Provide Necessary Support To The Hostage Survivors Or The Families Of Any Of The Men Who D Been Killed Heather Ann Thompson Sheds New Light On One Of The Most Important Civil Rights Stories Of The Last Century, Exploring Every Aspect Of The Uprising And Its Legacy From The Perspectives Of All Of Those Involved In This Forty Five Year Fight For Justice The Prisoners, The State Officials, The Lawyers On Both Sides, The State Troopers And Corrections Officers, And The Families Of The Slain Men

HEATHER ANN THOMPSON is an award winning historian at the University of Michigan She has written on the history of mass incarceration, as well as its current impact, for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, Salon, Dissent, New Labor Forum, and The Huffington Post She served on a National Academy of Sciences blue ribbon panel that studied the causes and consequences of mass incarcerations in

[PDF / Epub] ✅ Blood in the Water  Author Heather Ann Thompson –
  • Hardcover
  • 752 pages
  • Blood in the Water
  • Heather Ann Thompson
  • English
  • 20 October 2017
  • 9780375423222

10 thoughts on “Blood in the Water

  1. says:

    Just finished Heather Ann Thompson s Blood in the Water It is absolutely essential to understanding the history of prisons in the US, and mass incarceration generally Professor Thompson spent a decade fighting for access to the long hidden records, and painstakingly reviewing the evidence to find out what really happened Her investment in time, blood, sweat and tears has paid off for the reader 45 years ago, prisoners took over an exercise yard at Attica prison, after months of having their complaints about insufficient food, lack of medical care, guard brutality ignored As negotiations with the prisoners were beginning to bear fruit the state agreed that virtually all,of their complaints were legitimate , Rockefeller decided to slaughter the prisoners, to ensure he was viewed as tough on crime and to further his national political ambitions The casual racism behind this decision was explicitly approved by Nixon sitting in the Oval Office as we know because of his now famous taping system.Over the following decades, New York State did whatever it could to obscure what happened and shift blame from itself to the prisoners Before a single body was examined, the state announced that prisoners had eviscerated guards, and castrated at least one of them, cutting off his genitiles and stuffing them in his mouth Nothing of the sort occurred All of the guards killed in the end were slaughtered by law enforcement none by prisoners.After reviewing all of the events of the days during the uprising and the slaughter in the days after, Thompson turns to the cover upwhich reached all the way to Governor and then Vice President Rockefeller She then turns to the tireless efforts of the men at Attica to gain legal redress for the harm done to them, and then to the surviving guards battle for an apology and compensation.At the end is a wonderful Epilogue, discussing the impact not so much of the uprising itself on the course of history, but the even bigger impact of the false narrative and cover up which followed the mass slaughter by the state in the aftermath.The book was so fascinating, that I kept going all the way through the acknowledgments A pretty comprehensive list, including illustrious scholars like Michele Alexander and Toussaint Losier and my great friend, Shaena Fazal Buried in the middle, was mention of Alan Mills If this is me, I do not belong in this esteemed crowd, and had nothing to do with the book..but am so honored to be included Wow.Anyway, read the book Attica Fight Back.

  2. says:

    The Attica prison uprising of 1971 shows the nation that even the most marginalized citizens will never stop fighting to be treated as human beings It testifies to this irrepressible demand for justice This is Attica s legacy Watch me discuss it in my reading vlog

  3. says:

    This book has won numerous awards, including the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for History It tells the story of the Attica Prison uprising in 1971, when a riot led to a group of prisoners taking several hostages and resulting in a tense standoff, with negotiations going on for days.The author is at pains to explain that much evidence has been kept secret since the events occurred leading to family members of those involved having unanswered questions for many years She claims to have interviewed everyone she could trace who were involved in the situation, and spent years unearthing stories from that time The book starts with what Attica was like at the time The petty, discriminating rules, the way the system made things difficult for prisoners and their families, the unhelpful and unresponsive doctors, the trivial violations which led to prisoners being locked in their cells for days Oddly enough, it was a minor thing which triggered the riot A prisoner, having finally been allowed out of his cell, after a long lock in, was indulging in some mock fighting in the prison yard When told he had broken the rules and ordered back inside, he hit the guard Later, he was seen being carried from his cell and a difficult, tense situation, was about to explode We are methodically taken through events before, during and after the riot, with everything that was involved It is obvious that this is a painstaking and thorough account of what happened and that the author has been tireless in trying to piece together events This is an exhaustive account at times, but certainly the definitive book on the riot and the aftermath.

  4. says:

    On September 9, 1971 the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York forced its way into newspaper headlines across the United States On that day roughly 1300 prisoners took control of the facility in response to years of mistreatment and harassment In American history there have been many violent protests that have led to the death or wounding of those who took part Whether they involved Native Americans, Vietnam anti war demonstrators, organized labor, or Afro Americans the causes and results of these events were documented and analyzed carefully by historians In the case of Attica, where 40 individuals, prisoners and hostages were killed and hundreds wounded, government officials placed immediate road blocks to thwart an objective investigation Government officials did not want the truth to come out, particularly New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and his administration because of errors in judgement and outright incompetence when hundreds of poorly trained New York State troopers and prison guards were sent into the facility with shotguns blazing The Rockefeller administration immediately put out misinformation about what occurred, particularly when autopsies showed that the hostages were killed by indiscriminate gun fire, and not by prisoners Coroners were pressured to bury the truth as were other officials who disagreed with prison administrators and Rockefeller and his cohorts It took many years to overcome the opposition to releasing what actually took place Finally historian Heather Ann Thompson in her comprehensive history, BLOOD IN THE WATER THE ATTICA PRISON UPRISING OF 1971 AND ITS LEGACY has addressed all the major issues and individuals involved through her doggedness and refusal to accept no for an answer as she rummaged, researched, filed numerous freedom of information requests, interviewed participants and survivors in her quest to uncover the truth According to Thompson the gap in the historiography pertaining to Attica existed because of the obstruction by those who knew what really occurred and were concerned with the backlash that would result if the truth came to the fore Part of that truth were the conditions that existed in Attica as well as many other prisons nationwide Thompson describes a system overseen by Attica s Superintendent Vincent Mancusi that suffered from overcrowding, lack of medical care, poor training of correctional officers, using prisoners as free labor to the tune of 12 million per year, no visitation for common law families, which effected one quarter of the inmate population, a capricious and arbitrary parole system, censorship of reading material and letters, medical experiments, and an overall atmosphere of racism The prison itself was built in 1930 and by 1971 its facilities had never been updated to accommodate an increasing number of prisoners whose racial makeup was no longer predominantly white, and the crimes they were incarcerated for did not fit the patina of the 1930s.Thompson s book is very disturbing and the events of September, 1971 were greatly affected by the political climate of the 1960s At that time politicians moved toward law and order planks as demonstrated by the Nixon administration in 1968 and as the 1972 election moved closer The law and order approach greatly affected the funding and operation of America s prisons As politicians in the north and south saw crime as the greatest problem in society, they decided to wage war against it This would lead to the imprisonment of inmates than in any country in the world In New York state Governor Rockefeller, known as a liberal Republican saw Nixon s crime agenda as an impediment to his own quest for the presidency By 1970 he began to change his image to a conservative politician who was tough on crime.An uprising at the state prison at Auburn, NY was a precursor to events at Attica What occurred at Auburn should have served as a wakeup for New York State Prison Commissioner Russell Oswald to investigate inmate grievances, because prisoner reform advocates, New York ACLU lawyers and others were becoming very involved and wanted to investigate prisoner complaints The prison population was younger and politically aware than previous generations Members of the Black Panthers, Young Lords, Black Muslims, and Weather Underground placed an emphasis on acquiring knowledge as they worked for improved educational programs For them, knowledge meant power and it was used to convince prisoners that what occurred to them on the inside mirrored what was occurring in the outside world From that perspective Thompson is correct that Attica was a prison that was about to explode in September, 1971.The first half of the narrative concentrates on prisoner frustration concerning their treatment and the lack of response by prison officials to their concerns, the seizure of the facility by inmates, the negotiations that were conducted to try and resolve the situation, and the final storming of the facility by New York State troopers and correctional officers In so doing Thompson provides intimate details of every important aspect of the crisis Thompson takes the reader inside the lives of inmates, negotiators, administrators, correctional officers taken hostage, and individuals brought in from the outside to try and alleviate the situation In each section Thompson introduces important individuals to highlight what was about to be covered A few of the most powerful are portraits of Michael Smith, a correctional officer who is severely wounded by gunfire Tom Wicker, a New York Times reporter who was brought in as an observer Tony Strollo, a New York State trooper whose brother Frank was a correctional officer inside the facility Elizabeth Fink, a lawyer who defended the prisoners and tried to gain compensation for them and their families and Malcom Bell, an investigative lawyer who turned whistleblower against the state The reader will witness the motives that laid behind the actions of the major participants and how it influenced their behavior Thompson leaves no rock unturned as she explores every aspect of her story and reaches the conclusion the massacre that takes place at Attica did not have to happen, but for Rockefeller s selfish concern for his political career and the party line that black revolutionaries and outside agitators were responsible for the uprising, the lack of training provided for the New York State Police for this type of operation, and the seeming stubbornness and vindictiveness of prison officials and many correctional officers in dealing with a situation that had gotten totally out of hand.The second half of the narrative encompasses the attempts to cover up the truth by the Rockefeller administration and statewide prison officials, the brutal treatment of prisoners by correctional officers following the retaking of the prison, the attempts by inmate families, and families of correctional officers hostages that were killed to learn the truth The obfuscation, misinformation, direct interference to learning the truth, and outright lies dominate the experience of anyone who disagreed with the findings that the leaders of the cover up who feared what would happen should the truth emerge dominates the narrative The atmosphere that the different investigative commissions operated under created a very difficult situation as Thompson is correct in pointing out that the nation s most powerful politicians viewed Attica as part and parcel of a revolutionary plot to destabilize the nation as a whole would have profound consequences for how officials, both state and federal, handled official investigations 267 A further impediment to learning the truth were the actions taken by Governor Rockefeller, his staff, prison officials, New York State Police officials and correctional officers to corroborate their stories to make sure they would achieve the outcome they desired from any investigation.Thompson examines each investigation and then goes on to the legal effort by the families involved to learn the truth and gain compensation and better treatment for those who perished and those who survived Overall, it took three years for the state to bring inmates to trial for the uprising The most common theme dealt with those who were prosecuted, those who was not, the coercion of inmates to testify, and the uneven field that was created for prisoner defense lawyers As Malcom Bell, a lawyer recruited to Special Prosecutor Anthony Simonetti s team pointed out when he became a whistle blower after experiencing the abuses of the prosecution, it struck me as odd that so much effort was going into prosecuting prisoners from Attica when the officers had killed ten times as many people as the inmates had 403 Bell tried to gain support for his findings, even writing a report for Hugh Carey, then the recently elected governor of New York After waiting months Bell grew tired and contacted Tom Wicker and the story ran in the New York Times creating a firestorm The overall approach was clear, the prosecution of inmates was of the utmost importance and the case against law enforcement was a much lower priority What followed was an investigation of the investigation and perhaps Thompson s best chapter.Thompson discusses the prosecution of the prisoners in a very clear and concise manner The key conviction that Simonetti s team sought was the murderer of corrections officer William Quinn The Quinn case as with other prosecution cases produced witnesses that were not very credible Most had not even been at the scene of the supposed crimes, they had been coerced into testifying, or they were promised early parole, reduced sentences, or total release Prejudiced judges in the first two cases gained convictions but once Bell became a whistle blower prosecution tactics began to change particularly when going after New York State police officials where increasing evidence that they interfered with the collection of materials and issued orders designed to protect troopers and themselves emerged Men in Simonetti s office were fully aware that the top brass in the NYSP were hiding and destroying evidence Bell grew angrier and sent numerous letter to Simonetti pressuring him to go after State Police officials like Lt Colonel George Infante, Captain Henry Williams, and Major John Monahan, but the Special Prosecutor chose to ignore Bell s requests over and over.A number of commissions were appointed to investigate what transpired after September 9, 1971 The McKay Commission led by Robert McKay, the Dean of the New York University Law School was the most comprehensive and collected information from over 3200 witnesses that included 1600 present and former inmates, 400 correction officers, 270 New York State troopers, 200 National Guardsmen, and 100 sheriffs It reached the conclusion that events unflinchingly and graphically exposed the maltreatment of prisoners that had led to the rebellion, and made it equally clear that its bloody end was both avoidable and unconscionable 282 284 The theme of culpability for the Attica uprisings pervades Thompson s narrative, and like a fish that rots from the head down we see the interference and strategy of the Rockefeller administration throughout By the time a number of these cases finally reached trial, Nelson Rockefeller was undergoing Congressional hearings to be approved as Vice President once Richard Nixon resigned Angela Davis made the correct comparison when she pleaded before the committee not to approve Rockefeller Here was a man who refused any empathy toward the prisoners He would not go to the prison, he would not grant any paroles or pardons However, President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for his crimes, why couldn t the Governor of New York do a little of the same Thompson completes her history of Attica by exploring the long road taken by inmates to seek redress in the New York State courts Led by attorney Elizabeth Fink they fought for years to overcome a new round of legal stalling and machinations as inmates, and families of inmates who had passed away fought the system As in other parts of the narrative Thompson provide minute details as the years passed until the trial of prison administrators in the early 1990s Partially successful the next battle would be over monetary damages to the inmates Fink led the former prisoners through the labyrinth that was the New York court system and finally in 2000, almost thirty years later a settlement was reached This created tension with the families of the forgotten hostages who received nothing from the state despite promises They would begin their own war to receive compensation that was somewhat successful, but just as with the prisoner settlement New York State refused to grant them an apology or any admission of wrongdoing for the massacre at Attica.Reading Thompson s study can be exhausting due to the detail and the emotion in which the author presents her material However, she has done a wondrous job of research and picking apart the documentation that she uncovered For those who lived through the Attica uprising you will be amazed at what Thompson has uncovered If you are younger and have never heard or thought about Attica and prison reform this book will be a revelation.

  5. says:

    3.5 stars This is is difficult one to rate It is exhaustively researched and the level of detail Thompson reconstructs is remarkable However, I found it to be a fairly exhaust ing read There s very little gesture towards crafting a compelling narrative Dramatic, consequential moments are plowed over in the same just the facts reporting style as quotidian court motions Further, a book that purports to be about the 1971 uprising s legacy could have benefited greatly from Thompson taking a wider lens to the story, providing deeper context for what was going on in the country at the time I mean, how can a book about Attica and it s legacy not even mention Dog Day Afternoon until the last 3 4 pages where it s tossed off in a list of other pieces of American culture that mention Attica.I m certain that this is the definitive history of the 1971 Attica prison uprising, while equally certain that a far captivating and resonant version of this story could have been told 5 stars for research, 3 stars for readability.

  6. says:

    I have been fascinated by the story of the prison uprising since I was little and saw Al Pacino chanting Attica in Dog Day Afternoon Despite being a famous event, it has taken over forty years for some of the documents on Attica to be unsealed Thompson has collected all that information and written a definitive account of the bloody uprising, from the perspectives of both the prisoners and the law enforcement It is a horrifying, fascinating read on the historical mistreatment of inmates, and how some victims are still searching for justice.Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books

  7. says:

    People will agree and disagree with this book, but the real question is, will we treat each other as human

  8. says:

    This is an absolutely astonishing book At first, the pro prisoner point of view threw me off, but the evidence is presented in a way that makes the case that the government killed most of the hostages through an ill conceived attack to retake the prison, and then lied and covered up the evidence I can t imagine the research it took to create this book, but she is as great of writer as she is a researcher The chapters leading up to the siege create a foreboding that was unparalleled in my non fiction reading experience Unfortunately the racism that created the circumstances which led to Attica still exists this is no mere history book it s a warning and a plea for change.

  9. says:

    One of the most difficult books I have ever read I found myself, throughout the first half, needing to put the book down and take a break, because of the enormity of the suffering of the prisoners of Attica and the callousness of the State of New York It s hard, heartbreaking reading Throughout, though, Thompson s excellent writing, dogged research, and respect for both the prisoners and the hostages of the uprising compels you to keep going An incredibly important book.

  10. says:

    Heather Ann Thompson s Pulitzer Prize winning Blood in the Water about the 1971 uprising at New York s Attica prison was an extremely difficult book to read This had nothing to do with the writing which was exceptional throughout and managed to express the feelings of many different groups deeply invested in what happened there Rather it is the treatment of the inmates primarily Black and Hispanic before, during, and after the uprising that was deeply unsettling Faced with severe overcrowding, dismal medical facilities, constant racial and physical abuse by guards, poor food and horrible sanitary conditions, the inmates at Attica finally rose up on September 9th, 1971 and took over a small portion of the prison What was unique in reading about what followed is how by all accounts, the prisoners quickly organised a security detail to protect the hostages they had taken from harm and drew up a list of changes they wanted to see at Attica When negotiations between the inmates and prison officials broke down, the police stormed Attica Rather than have the National Guard come in and use their expertise in hostage negotiations to achieve a peaceful takeover from unarmed other than homemade knives and baseball bats inmates, a mix of angry prison guards and state police from around the state who were determined to make an example of these prisoners, swarmed in On the orders of their superiors, they swarmed in without any name badges to identify them They swarmed in with state issued weapons as well as their private firearms, none of which were catalogued to identify who had what They swarmed in with unjacketed bullets so deadly that they had been outlawed by the Geneva convention They swarmed in and massacred 29 prisoners and 10 of their own guards They left the badly wounded survivors without medical care and beat and tortured those they thought responsible for the uprising long after it was put down This however is only the beginning of Thompson s story The rest of the book focuses on the prisoners quest for justice and the astounding lies and coverups perpetrated by the city of New York and its prison system Even the families of hostages murdered by fellow officers on that day found themselves facing the same obstruction and deceit in their attempting to find out what happened That in 2005, than 30 years after the fact, both inmates and relatives of the hostages were still seeking redress from a city that refused to apologise verbally or monetarily, is a shocking indictment of police accountability and the fight for memory and history That is than anything what this book is Another voice in the battle for the memory of what happened on that day A voice for the inmates and hostages who fell and a reminder of why they fell Thompson tries to remind all of us that this uprising was not an isolated incident It occurred in a cauldron of racial abuse and a penal system focused on intimidation and fear rather than rehabilitation The conditions that created an Attica continue to this day They continue around the country and they continue at Attica itself This is a monumental book that needs to be read by anyone concerned about social justice and equality.

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