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Sing Sing (英語) ハードカバー – 2005/11/7
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This book vividly presents the gripping history of one of America’s most notorious prisons. Based on extensive research with original sources, the author’s narrative covers every period of the prison’s checkered history, from the awful conditions of the 19th century to the relative improvements of the 20th century to today. For most of the 19th century Sing Sing was a bastion of inhumane treatment, where guards made every effort to break the spirit of inmates by a fanatic rule of silence enforced by shockingly brutal punishments and tortures. In 1920, a dramatic turnaround occurred, when one of criminology’s most progressive wardens, Lewis Lawes, took over. In command for twenty-one years, Lawes—who believed in reforming prisoners, not just punishing them—brought almost miraculous changes for the better.
During the 20th century Sing Sing held such infamous prisoners as members of Murder Incorporated, the Lonely Hearts Killers, Albert "the cannibal" Fish, Lucky Luciano, Louis Lepke, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Brian recounts their stories and throws in "cameos" of such diverse visiting luminaries as Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle, Johnny Cash, John Cheever, and Mother Teresa. Sing Sing has witnessed it all: from daring, ingenious escapes and the first blood donations by prisoners to inmates volunteering to be injected with syphilis in the interest of medical science.
Brian's story ends with a glimpse of Sing Sing in the recent past and today, based on his interviews with the present warden, Brian Fischer; prison guards; a prison psychiatrist; and the daughter of Sing Sing's last executioner.
A must for fans of true crime, criminology, and urban American history, Brian’s powerfully told story is both a dramatic page-turner and a definitive history.
"…an excellent history for anyone interested in the history of prisons and prison reform in America."
- Publishers Weekly
"America’s most notorious prison is also America’s most mysterious. Denis Brian’s book figuratively opens the gates of Sing Sing and permits readers to learn the tales locked inside the confines of this famous prison and meet the remarkable array of inhabitants, keepers, and luminaries connected with its two-century history."
James McGrath Morris
author of The Rose Man of Sing Sing and Jailhouse Journalism
"Provides a penetrating, unforgettable look into the horrors as well as the acts of kindness and generosity that make the true story of Sing Sing so compelling."
Sister Helen Prejean
author of Dead Man Walking
"It is impossible to read this book and still be in favor of capital punishment."
Frederik Osborne, Grandson of Sing Sing Warden
Thomas Mott Osborne, and President of the Osborne Association,
which works to improve the criminal justice system.
Amazon.com で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta)
Next, on a more substantive level, it seems that most of the book does little more than restate what prior authors had to say on the subject. Those books include Warden Lewis Lawes' books, Scott Christensen's "Condemned," Ted Conover's "Guarding Newjack," and Ralph Blumenthal's "Miracle at Sing Sing." Particularly in regard to the "Missing Archives" (covered in Chapter 11), it would have been interesting to read some information that added to Scott Christensen's painstaking and excellent research. Unfortunately, all the book does is quote the exact same information, and copy (quite poorly) some of the same photos already contained in Mr. Christensen's original (and far superior) book. It adds nothing new to the body of existing material on this fascinating subject.
Another level on which the book was disappointing was in its numerous errors, some minor and some substantial. These are indicative of sloppy fact-checking and proofreading. Some of the book's more substantial errors include the mention, at page 153, of executioner Robert Elliott's electrocution of outlaws Irene Schroeder and Glenn Dague in 1931. However, the book fails to mention that those executions ocurred at Rockview Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, not at Sing Sing (Elliott served as the executioner for several states, including Pennsylvania). The omission of this fact, together with the context of the paragraph, imply that the execution took place at Sing Sing, which is incorrect. Further evidence of this factual error is the mention of Schroeder and Dague at the top of page 154, again in a context that suggests the author was not aware that their execution took place in Pennsylvania rather than at Sing Sing.
Other factully incorrect statements appear at page 158, with the mention that Murder Inc.'s "motto" was "We Only Kill Our Own." This was never the "motto" of any crime organization. The actual quote was "we only kill each other," a quip allegedly made by mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel to a "civilian" friend, construction contractor Del Webb. Additionally, hit men Martin "Buggsy" (he spelled it with two g's, not one) Goldstein and Harry "Pittsburgh Phil" Strauss were never "surely in the running" to be the "boss" of Murder, Inc. or any other crime organization. They were strictly low-level functionaries, albeit highly prolific ones.
Other factual errors include a statement, at page 219, that Eddie Lee Mays, the last man executed at Sing Sing, died on August 15, 1953. The correct date of his execution was August 15, 1963. And, at page 220, the book refers to Dow Hover as "Sing Sing's last executioner, from 1953 to 1962." But according to the 2005 Village Voice article that the book cites, Mr. Hover also served as executioner in 1963, handling the last two executions at Sing Sing. Another error is the statement, at page 185, that murderer-rapist Edward Eckwerth was executed was May 23, 1958. The actual date of his execution was a year later, on May 22, 1959.
This book could have been much better than it actually was, if some of these problems had been avoided.
Diane C. Donovan, Editor