Prisons of All Sorts

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Prisons of All Sorts

How grueling is being physically locked up compared to dwelling in a mental or psychological prison? Here are a few books that explore some dimensions of bondage that you may not have previously considered.
 
American Prison by Shane Bauer
In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. After his employment came to an abrupt end, he wrote an exposé about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Here, Bauer builds on that article, weaving a much deeper reckoning with his experience with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America. A blistering indictment of the private prison system and the powerful forces that drive it, American Prison is a necessary human document about the true face of justice in America.

Without You, There is No Us by Suki Kim
It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year and the students sent to construction fields -- except for the 270 students at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room, and where Suki Kim has accepted a job teaching English. Over the next six months, she will eat three meals a day with her young charges and struggle to teach them to write, all under the watchful eye of the regime. Without You, There Is No Us offers a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world's most unknowable country -- and at the privileged young men she calls "soldiers and slaves." 

The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn
In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism. His congregation was racially integrated, and he was a much-lauded leader in the contemporary civil rights movement. Eventually, Jones moved his church, Peoples Temple, to northern California. He became involved in electoral politics, and soon was a prominent Bay Area leader. In this riveting narrative, Jeff Guinn examines Jones’s life, from his extramarital affairs, drug use, and fraudulent faith healing to the fraught decision to move almost a thousand of his followers to a settlement in the jungles of Guyana in South America. Guinn provides stunning new details of the events leading to the fatal day in November, 1978 when more than nine hundred people died --including almost three hundred infants and children -- after being ordered to swallow a cyanide-laced drink.
 
American Fix by Ryan Hampton
Ryan Hampton is a young man who has made addiction and recovery reform his life's mission. Through the wildly successful non-profit organization Facing Addiction, Hampton has been rocketed to the center of America’s rising recovery movement -- quickly emerging as the de facto leader of the national conversation on addiction. He understands firsthand how easy it is to develop a dependency on opioids, and how destructive it can quickly become. In American Fix, Hampton describes his personal struggle with addiction, outlines the challenges that the recovery movement currently faces, and offers a concrete, comprehensive plan of action towards making America’s addiction crisis a thing of the past.

Empire of the Sun: A Novel by J.G. Ballard
Jim is separated from his parents in a world at war. To survive, he must find a deep strength greater than all the events that surround him. Lost in Shanghai in 1941, he searches in vain for his parents and is eventually imprisoned in a Japanese concentration camp, where he is witness to the fierce white flash of Nagasaki. The bomb bellows the end of the war...and the dawn of a blighted world. Ballard's enduring novel of war and deprivation, internment camps and death marches, and starvation and survival is an honest coming-of-age tale set in a world thrown utterly out of joint.