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Bandits & Bibles: Convict Literature in Nineteenth-Century America, Vol. 1 written by Larry E. Sullivan


Bandits & Bibles: Convict Literature in Nineteenth-Century America, Vol. 1 written by Larry E. Sullivan


A lively array of selections from the earliest recorded convict autobiographies, examining crimes, arrests and convictions, punishments inflicted, survival techniques, and spiritual awakenings. Hard labor in coal mines, whippings, solitary confinement in bare unheated cells, water torture, and iron maidens—these are just a few of the punishments meted out to these prisoners and vividly recounted in these selections.

Dr. Larry E. Sullivan is Chief Librarian of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Professor of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. He is the author of The Prison Reform Movement: Forlorn Hope, as well as author or editor of numerous other books and articles in history, penology, and other disciplines. Sullivan is currently the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement.


Now a highly politicized medium, prison literature's roots lie in tales of theft, brutality, and religious conversion.

Library Journal

This fleet volume of excerpts from the memoirs of 19th-century convicts-memoirs often smuggled out of prison or printed only after the release of the prisoner-is fascinating. The book is divided into four sections-"Bandits, Outlaws, and Rogues," "Arrests, Convictions, and Descriptions of Convicts, by Convicts," "Life Behind Bars," and "Bibles and Reform"-with each containing intriguing excerpts such as "My First Train Robbery," "Sunday in the Prisons," and "Slang Among Convicts." Sullivan (criminal justice, CUNY; editor, Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement) is an impressive authority on the subject; he began collecting this literature over 30 years ago, while working at a maximum-security prison, and his familiarity with the topic is evident in the introductions to the book and to each section. With all that knowledge under his belt, the author would have done a better interpretation of the excerpts and given more details about the convicts themselves. Ultimately, this does not function well as a reference work, but as a work of literature it gets high marks and should be read by anyone interested in criminals, law, or social reform.-Manya S. Chylinski, Ernst & Young Ctr. for Business Knowledge, Boston

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Title: Bandits & Bibles: Convict Literature in Nineteenth-Century America, Vol. 1

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