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Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing Time

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  17 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
MAGGOTS IN MY SWEET POTATOES: Women Doing Time is an in-depth and illuminating look at the lives of incarcerated women. Photojournalist Susan Madden Lankford thought-provokingly explores the kaleidoscope of alienation, personal despair, desperation, and fragile hopes of women caught up in the state's zeal for incarceration. Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing Time is ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Humane Exposures Publishing, LLC
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Jul 05, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in social justice or CJ studies
Shelves: toolbox, shivers
Large book. Awkward size. Riveting accounts of inmate life inside a womens' jail. Not prison. Huge difference, which I had no clue about before this book.

"Violence starts in childhood, in the home...Crime begins in the crib."
-Jean Harris

"Up to 76 percent of women who commit felonies are first arrested for prostitution."

The above are bits from the book, which I expected to be a mostly photographic record of women behind bars. My expectations were too low. Transcribed interviews with prisoners o
4 1/2 stars. Maggots in my Sweet Potatoes is an impressive book, impressive in that you will come away with an expanded and perhaps new impression of what life is like in a women's jail. Ms. Lankford is a photojournalist and this large format (~13” x ~10”) book is filled with stark black and white photos. It is not, however, just another coffee table book. The author follows the stories of real people and this book should be read, not just thumbed through.

Jails are very different than prisons. I
Gary Dale Cearley
Dec 12, 2008 Gary Dale Cearley rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People interested in criminal justice or women's issues.
When I received my copy of Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes I thought that this would be an easy read, a simple read. Firstly it looks a bit like a coffee table book. I thought that this would be something to browse, but just a harsher subject matter.

Boy, was I fooled.

Susan Madden Lankford was not there at the jailhouse in San Diego simply to snap photos so that we could see “the inside”. She followed many of the prisoners and even some former prisoners who shared their stories and experiences in ra
Mar 27, 2012 Shahrun rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I won a copy of this book through GoodReads First Reads Giveaways, in exchange for an honest review. So here we go...

When I first saw this book (on GoodReads), I though this was just going to be a gritty collection of photographs. What I got was far better!

The story is not only told with the photographs, but using the words of the women (and men) photographed, giving them a voice to tell their stories. It's a double impact which is very powerful.

Ms Lankford has gone beyond just presenting the
Feb 05, 2012 Megan rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I did get this book for free through the Giveaway program.
Such a powerful book. Pictures and text from women in jail and prison. It left me feeling frustrated at how we deal with mental illness, abuse and incarceration. But I couldn't put it down. The stories were disturbing, saddening and honest (even in their dishonesty). I found it really interesting to see the same manipulation that I see at work in another setting.
Virginia Jacobs
Jun 17, 2012 Virginia Jacobs rated it it was ok
I read an article about Madden Lankford in the San Diego Union Tribune that described her as a photographer. She's published three books, and I thought her subject matter sounded interesting. So, I checked her first book, Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes, out from the library.

I would not describe this book as a book of photographs. It does have a lot of photographs, but it also has a lot of dialogue with the inmates, guards, councilors, and others. The book follows too many inmates, and it is hard f
Feb 08, 2012 Margaret rated it really liked it
A giveaway win - so thank-you. 3.5 stars rounded up (because it was free!)
I found this a compelling read & the photos are interesting but it didn't really tell me anything I didn't know and it left me with a lot of questions. The jail visits and associated interviews and pictures took place over something like 18 months between March 1995 and summer 1996; but I think the book was published in 2008. What took so long? There's no 10 year follow-up; no here's what A, B & C are doing now. It
Eva Leger
This is another I may have built up in my head. The subject fascinates me yet I barely got into this before deciding not to finish.
(If anyone wants to get ignorant about me rating a book I "barely got into" I'll make you a deal - I won't review books I didn't finish on YOUR page and you don't do it on mine. K? Good. Now go away.)
Anyway, so yeah, I only got a few pages in before I was skimming. That was an immediate red flag because I'm not a skimmer. A few more pages and I decided to only browse
Jun 09, 2011 Linda rated it liked it
Great photographic essay. Difficult to finish because of size and layout of book.
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Susan Lankford grew up in the Midwest and holds a BS degree from the University of Nebraska. She attended Ansel Adams' prestigious workshops, studied under such photographic masters as Richard Misrach and Ruth Bernhard, and spent many years as a successful wildlife photographer and portraitist. The parents of three adult daughters, Susan and Rob Lankford live in San Diego.
More about Susan Madden Lankford...

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