A Place to Stand

Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
54
Free sample

A vivid portrait of life inside a maximum-security prison and an affirmation of one man’s spirit in overcoming the most brutal adversity.
 
Jimmy Santiago Baca’s harrowing, brilliant memoir of his life before, during, and immediately after the years he spent in a maximum-security prison garnered tremendous critical acclaim and went on to win the prestigious 2001 International Prize. Long considered one of the best poets in America today, Baca was illiterate at the age of twenty-one and facing five to ten years behind bars for selling drugs. This raw, unflinching memoir is the remarkable tale of how he emerged after his years in the penitentiary—much of it spent in isolation—with the ability to read and a passion for writing poetry.
 
“Proof there is always hope in even the most desperate lives.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 
“A hell of a book, quite literally. You won’t soon forget it.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune
 
“This book will have a permanent place in American letters.” —Jim Harrison, New York Times–bestselling author of A Good Day to Die
 
 
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About the author

Jimmy Santiago Baca was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has written several books of poetry and a number of screenplays. His awards include the National Endowment of Poetry Award, Vogelstein Foundation Award, National Hispanic Heritage Award, Berkeley Regents Award, Pushcart Prize, Southwest Book Award, and American Book Award.
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4.6
54 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
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Published on
Dec 1, 2007
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781555848903
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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A gripping tale of personal revolution by a man who went from Crips co-founder to Nobel Peace Prize nominee, author, and antigang activist

When his L.A. neighborhood was threatened by gangbangers, Stanley Tookie Williams and a friend formed the Crips, but what began as protection became worse than the original gangs. From deadly street fights with their rivals to drive-by shootings and stealing cars, the Crips' influence -- and Tookie's reputation -- began to spread across L.A. Soon he was regularly under police surveillance, and, as a result, was arrested often, though always released because the charges did not stick. But in 1981, Tookie was convicted of murdering four people and was sent to death row at San Quentin in Marin County, California.

Tookie maintained his innocence and began to work in earnest to prevent others from following his path. Whether he was creating nationwide peace protocols, discouraging adolescents from joining gangs, or writing books, Tookie worked tirelessly for the rest of his life to end gang violence. Even after his death, his legacy continues, supported by such individuals as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Snoop Dogg, Jesse Jackson, and many more.

This posthumous edition of Blue Rage, Black Redemption features a foreword by Tavis Smiley and an epilogue by Barbara Becnel, which details not only the influence of Tookie's activism but also her eyewitness account of his December 2005 execution, and the inquest that followed.

By turns frightening and enlightening, Blue Rage, Black Redemption is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and an invaluable lesson in how rage can be turned into redemption.
In the tradition of The Other Wes Moore and Just Mercy, a searing memoir and clarion call to save our at-risk youth by a young black man who himself was a lost cause—until he landed in a rehabilitation program that saved his life and gave him purpose.

Born into abject poverty in Haiti, young Jim St. Germain moved to Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, into an overcrowded apartment with his family. He quickly adapted to street life and began stealing, dealing drugs, and growing increasingly indifferent to despair and violence. By the time he was arrested for dealing crack cocaine, he had been handcuffed more than a dozen times. At the age of fifteen the walls of the system were closing around him.

But instead of prison, St. Germain was placed in "Boys Town," a nonsecure detention facility designed for rehabilitation. Surrounded by mentors and positive male authority who enforced a system based on structure and privileges rather than intimidation and punishment, St. Germain slowly found his way, eventually getting his GED and graduating from college. Then he made the bravest decision of his life: to live, as an adult, in the projects where he had lost himself, and to work to reform the way the criminal justice system treats at-risk youth.

A Stone of Hope is more than an incredible coming-of-age story; told with a degree of candor that requires the deepest courage, it is also a rallying cry. No one is who they are going to be—or capable of being—at sixteen. St. Germain is living proof of this. He contends that we must work to build a world in which we do not give up on a swath of the next generation.

Passionate, eloquent, and timely, illustrated with photographs throughout, A Stone of Hope is an inspiring challenge for every American, and is certain to spark debate nationwide.

The earliest known prison memoir by an African American writer—recently discovered and authenticated by a team of Yale scholars—sheds light on the longstanding connection between race and incarceration in America.

“[A] harrowing [portrait] of life behind bars . . . part confession, part jeremiad, part lamentation, part picaresque novel (reminiscent, at times, of Dickens and Defoe).”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

In 2009, scholars at Yale University came across a startling manuscript: the memoir of Austin Reed, a free black man born in the 1820s who spent most of his early life ricocheting between forced labor in prison and forced labor as an indentured servant. Lost for more than one hundred and fifty years, the handwritten document is the first known prison memoir written by an African American. Corroborated by prison records and other documentary sources, Reed’s text gives a gripping first-person account of an antebellum Northern life lived outside slavery that nonetheless bore, in its day-to-day details, unsettling resemblances to that very institution.

Now, for the first time, we can hear Austin Reed’s story as he meant to tell it. He was born to a middle-class black family in the boomtown of Rochester, New York, but when his father died, his mother struggled to make ends meet. Still a child, Reed was placed as an indentured servant to a nearby family of white farmers near Rochester. He was caught attempting to set fire to a building and sentenced to ten years at Manhattan’s brutal House of Refuge, an early juvenile reformatory that would soon become known for beatings and forced labor.

Seven years later, Reed found himself at New York’s infamous Auburn State Prison. It was there that he finished writing this memoir, which explores America’s first reformatory and first industrial prison from an inmate’s point of view, recalling the great cruelties and kindnesses he experienced in those places and excavating patterns of racial segregation, exploitation, and bondage that extended beyond the boundaries of the slaveholding South, into free New York.

Accompanied by fascinating historical documents (including a series of poignant letters written by Reed near the end of his life), The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict is a work of uncommon beauty that tells a story of nineteenth-century racism, violence, labor, and captivity in a proud, defiant voice. Reed’s memoir illuminates his own life and times—as well as ours today.

Praise for The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict

“One of the most fascinating and important memoirs ever produced in the United States.”—Annette Gordon-Reed, The Washington Post

“Remarkable . . . triumphantly defiant . . . The book’s greatest value lies in the gap it fills.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Reed displays virtuosic gifts for narrative that, a century and a half later, earn and hold the reader’s ear.”—Thomas Chatterton Williams, San Francisco Chronicle

“[The book’s] urgency and relevance remain undiminished. . . . This exemplary edition recovers history without permanently trapping it in one interpretation.”—The Guardian

“A sensational, novelistic telling of an eventful life.”—The Paris Review

“Vivid and painful.”—NPR

“Lyrical and graceful in one sentence, burning with fury and hellfire in the next.”—Columbus Free Press
An award-winning work of brilliant passion and epic poetry that vividly captures the impossible truth of an entire romance from beginning to end.
 
Jimmy Santiago Baca introduces us to a man and woman before they are acquainted and re-creates their first meeting, falling in love, their decision to make a family, the eventual realization of each other’s irreconcilable faults, the resulting conflicts, the breakup and hostility, and, finally, their transcendence of the bitterness and resentment. Throughout the relationship we are privy to the couple’s astonishing range of emotions: the anguish of loneliness, the heady rush of new love, the irritations and joys of raising children, the difficulties in truly knowing someone, the doldrums of breakup, and so on. It is impossible not to identify with these characters and to recognize one’s own experience in theirs. As he weaves this story, Baca explores many of his traditional themes: the beauty and cruelty of the desert lands where he has spent much of his life, the grace and wisdom of animals, the quiet dignity of life on small Chicano farms. An extraordinary work that “expresses both bliss and heartache with lyric intensity” (Booklist) from one of America’s finest poets.
 
“Baca is a force in American poetry . . . His words heal, inspire, and elicit the earthly response of love.” —Garrett Hongo
 
“[Baca] writes with unconcealed passion . . . what makes his writing so exciting to me is the way in which it manifests both an intense lyricism and that transformative vision which perceives the mythic and archetypal significance of life-events.” —Denise Levertov
 
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