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In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  4,838 Ratings  ·  846 Reviews
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White bought into the modern American Dream, hook, line, and sinker. By the time he was in his early 30s, he had it all: a successful business, a mansion, luxury cars, designer clothing, fancy meals, a beautiful wife and children. The problem was he didn't have the money to pay for it. So he began kiting checks, a strategy not l
ebook, 352 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Shannon B
I did not hate reading this book, but I wanted to punch the author repeatedly through it. What an arrogant, spoiled person.

I did enjoy learning about Carville, and I wish the book would have focused more on the lepor colony than Mr. White's inability to admit he did something wrong. I will look into leporcy more on my own, it seems like an interesting topic that I know little about.

I am so looking forward to tearing this guy apart at our book club!
Will Byrnes
A driven writer and entrepreneur, Neil White, played fast and loose with other people’s trust, manipulated money around in a way that was frowned upon by our legal statutes, and found himself a guest of the government at a penal institution that also served as America’s last leper colony. In the Sanctuary of Outcasts tells of his one year stay there, what he saw and learned, not only about our criminal incarceration system but about the history of leprosy, both the textbook learning and the sort ...more
May 16, 2011 Kristie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can I give it 6 stars?

A real treat for me was to have a few moments here and there to sneak off and read a few chapters of this book. I knew how the story ended but I was endeared to the characters whether they were inmates or patients and could not wait to find out what they were going to get into next.

Some of the reviewers of this book could not get past Mr. White's high opinion of himself early on in his life. Some folks have to learn things the hard way and Mr. White was one of them. He was
Feb 22, 2012 Natalya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
White lived through an experience that could have made for a remarkable story. He spent 18 months in jail with a doctor who invented treatments for Lyme disease and certain forms of cancer; the mob lawyer Frank Ragano; and dozens of leprosy patients.

But I think White could have told his story better. I wasn't interested in his personal reflections at all. White arrived at the prison afraid of the leprosy patients, and then he suddenly fell in love with them, and I still don't understand exactly
Beck McDowell
Feb 08, 2011 Beck McDowell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts is well written, compelling, and entertaining. My reader-brain loved White's interesting characters, vivid descriptions, and witty dialogue. The writer in me was drawn to Neil White's use of contrasting themes and images: the quiet contentment of the leper colony vs. the violence and unrest of the adjacent prison, the peaceful setting of the oak-lined plantation turned leprosarium against the sparse accommodations of the prison cell, the misshapen limbs of the sick v ...more
Aug 04, 2012 Barry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This is a difficult book for me to review. On the one hand it is highly readable and for the most part very engaging, but on the other hand it's, well... It's hard to exactly define the negative, which is why this book is difficult for me to review. It's difficult to understand why the author wrote this book. There is some humor, but it's not funny enough for that to be the focal point. There are some insights in it, but it's not insightful enough for that to be the thrust of the book. There is ...more
Apr 20, 2009 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Surely, healthy people—even inmates would not be imprisoned with lepers”

Former publisher Neil White is convicted of check fraud, and sentenced to one year at Carville, a minimum security prison. It is only when he arrives that he discovers that Carville also houses Hansen Disease patients, or as they are commonly known—lepers. Mildly disgusted and reasonably terrified White serves his time amongst these “outcasts”. Determined to spin his legal setback to his favor, he approaches the situation a
Feb 15, 2011 Shauna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shauna by: Derek
I don't know where to start. I read this book in one day,so obviously it was good. I enjoyed "watching" Neil learn and grow as a person during his year of incarceration. There were some very interisting characters. I was quite fond of Ella and Link. White did a good job describing what he saw and a bit of how he felt, but I feel he lacked in his descriptions. He could have made the book much more rich had he described not only what he saw and how he felt, but if had described how things smelled, ...more
Cindy Knoke
Dec 12, 2012 Cindy Knoke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Neil White was a supremely successful southern business man, first a reporter, than a publisher, with a beautiful wife, lovely children, gorgeous homes and a yacht. He was a leader in the business community, contributed to many charities, and was an elite philanthropist, who traveled the world in high style.

White’s world came crashing down when he was arrested for kiting million dollar checks and committing financial fraud by the FBI. White was sentenced to 18 months incarceration in Carville Lo
Mar 26, 2009 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An unexpectedly moving (and funny) memoir!

When Neil White was sentenced to Federal Prison in the early 1990's for check kiting, the last place he certainly expected to be incarcerated was in a facility that also served as a community for victims of Hansen's Disease -- leprosy -- many of whom had been quarantined decades earlier and had few or no options for living anywhere else.

White, who enters the place with understandable misgivings and a truckload of hubris, emerges over a year later with a
Oct 25, 2010 Adrienne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has an intriguing concept, but the execution was barely tolerable. The white collar criminal/journalist went into a federal prison/leproasaurium as a shallow, self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing guy and emerged 18 months later as a slightly less shallow, self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing guy. His decision to write about his experiences seems pretty calculated and I got tired of hearing how handsome & privileged he had been and about all the beauty queens he dated in college. He does se ...more
Jun 03, 2013 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I read this in my book group, and although it wasn't a favorite with any of us, we agreed it was an interesting story, about leprosy and a leper colony, and a man trying to turn his life around. Certainly not a happy, uplifting tale though.
Paul Pessolano
Feb 07, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you liked "The Glass Castle", and, "The Tender Bar" you will love "In the Sanctuary of Outcasts". This is a memoir of Neil White. Neil was always told and believed that he would be "Big" someday. After he graduated from college as a journalist he became a magazine publisher. Life was good; he was married to a beautiful woman and had two lovely children. He also had the best in clothes, cars, and homes. He was generous to the communtiy, church, and friends.

The "Good" life was soon to come to a
Emily Smiley
Oct 26, 2010 Emily Smiley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 14, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neil White was once a very successful publisher of high-end travel magazines. He had everything - a beautiful wife, lovely kids, an exquisite home - and a massively inflated self-image. He started kiting checks, and he got caught and sent to prison. And by an amazing stroke of luck, he was sent to prison in Carville, LA, at the site of the only "leper colony" extant in the US. (Nowadays, people with Hansen's Disease are treated in their own communities.) This is his memoir of that experience, an ...more
Sep 26, 2012 Shana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the early nineties, Neil White was incarcerated in Carville, Louisiana for kiting checks (and don’t ask me to explain what that is because I’m still trying to understand how it all works). As an educated, formerly wealthy man, White had difficulty coming to terms with his prison sentence but soon became interested in the history of the place where he was imprisoned.

Carville was actually a sanctuary (or prison, you might say) for U.S. leprosy patients. Many were taken away or brought by their
Jan 07, 2010 Kdevoli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this memoir was great. An overly-ambitious financier defrauds his banks and investors, and is sent to a minimum security federal prison in Louisiana which also turns out to be the last refuge in the United States for sufferers of leprosy. (The latter are considered "patients" in the facility and have committed no crimes.)Along the way he meets some memorable characters that ultimately help him accept what his new life as an outcast (ex-con) will be like. My favorite part of the book wa ...more
Apr 20, 2015 Karima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got a lot more than I bargained for with his one. A friend reviewed this book on Goodreads and as I was reading her review I realized that I had been at Carville prison/leprsorium a few years back. I read the book because of that chance visit. I was totally fascinated by the story; not of the author's misdeeds but the story of Carville. White did an excellent job of portraying the atmosphere of a most unique place.
At the very end of the book, as White is nearing his release, he expresses his
Anne Marie
May 09, 2011 Anne Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first thing that I noticed were the enormous Spanish Oak on the cover, which is practically the secret Southern handshake of cover art.

White is not just writing about lepers and criminals, he is writing a true story of the South. Some readers may not appreciate the occasional unrelated detail or bit of family history, but they are integral to White's Ole Miss-educated, Big Man on Campus, Good People tale. And the author's deep involvement in and appreciation of Gulf Coast culture add rich l
Deborah Beatriz Blum
This book was so enjoyable that every night I was delighted to climb into bed and continue reading. White brings the people he encounters in the "sanctuary" to life with poignancy and a sense of humor. He makes the location in which they are incarcerated so vivid that I could see the place in my mind's eye. I liked the book so much that I recommended it to a friend who is a movie producer but apparently the rights were already optioned. Just to get such a good story I think it was worth it for N ...more
Kitty Tomlinson
Memoir of the time Neil White spend in a federal prison along side patients with Hansen's disease at Indian Camp Plantation in Carville, LA . Indian Camp was in the past a inpatient facility for patients with leprosy. It is located in Iberville Parish Louisiana. I'm from Iberville Parish and have always had an interest. There is a museum there that I would like to visit as well. Well written.
This is the story of a year spent in a minimum-security prison — one that is also home to a colony of Hansen’s disease — leprosy — patients.

The colony dates back to the late 1800s, before treatment for leprosy was available; many of the patients there when the author did his time had lived there for decades. The prison had not been there so long; it was added when treatment allowed HD patients to live their lives outside the hospital. It’s a fascinating history, and I expect that many of the pat
Cindy Hudson
Jan 05, 2010 Cindy Hudson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the mid-1990s Neil White defrauded creditors out of their money and was sentenced to spend time in a federal minimum-security prison. He recounts his time spent in that prison in his memoir, In The Sanctuary of Outcasts, which gives the reader a glimpse into two societies shut off from the mainstream: prisoners and leprosy patients. The story fascinates from the start, when White tells of his wife dropping him off at the prison gatehouse. He is early, and he has to wait to be checked in. Ever ...more
Riana Hunter
Nov 26, 2011 Riana Hunter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I probably shouldn't have read this so soon after Orange is the New Black. Or maybe read them in reverse order. But after reading Piper Kerman's story, I am less sympathetic to Neil White's. He is not only a people-pleaser, but someone who is pretty obsessed with outwards appearances and keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. Because of this, he ends up check kiting when his magazine publishing business gets into financial straits. The first time it happens, in Oxford, Mississippi with a newspaper, he was ...more
Jul 30, 2009 Map rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neil White was a spoiled, privileged white Southerner from a successful family. Poverty, misfortune, hardship happened to other people, inferior people not fortunate or lucky or smart enough to succeed. This arrogance and sense of entitlement led the talented young publishing entrepreneur to cross the line of criminality. Convicted of fraud, he was sent to a federal prison not far from his home in New Orleans. Little did he know that this place, his time in it, and the extraordinary people he wo ...more
Jan 16, 2010 JoAnn/QuAppelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost hate to call this, or see it called, a "memoir" because I am notorious among my reading friends for having no patience with this genre. But this one is different and (mostly) believable to me. White does not "recall" large portions of his childhood with exact quotes (from when he was 4 years old!)

I found White's story to be realistic (imprisoned for bank fraud) and surreal (sent to a federal prison that is also a leper colony, the last one in the United States). I had read Moloka'i last
Nov 17, 2013 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most unusual memoir I've ever read. Its facts appear to check out; otherwise I would swear it is very creative fiction.

A relatively well-off white man wants more than he earns, gets sucked into white-collar crime ("kiting" checks, which I had to look up. I'm not sure it would be possible in this age of instant transactions, but this was 1993)....gets caught, and is sentenced to a relatively short term at a low-security prison. So far, nothing very remarkable.

Here's where it gets weir
Sue Clifton
Feb 27, 2012 Sue Clifton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic roller coaster of emotions Neil White will take you on in this memoir! If you DON"T like nonfiction (like me), this is a must read. It will change everything you ever thought you hated about (most) nonfiction. Neil had me from the first page, made me dislike him through the first half (but I still couldn't stop reading), and then won me over again with one line: " the sanctuary for outcasts, I understood the truth. Surrounded by men and women who could not hide their disfig ...more
Apr 06, 2013 Dee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like memoirs
I have to admit that I'm not even sure how this book got on my shelf. Maybe a free book exchange at church? However it got there, it was not what I thought. When I started it, I didn't realize that it was non-fiction, although I quickly figured that part out.

White's book is a memoir that tells of his time spent in a Louisiana prison that just so happened to share a campus with a colony of patients suffering from the disease most typically known as leprosy, but now called Hansen's disease.

The sto
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Neil White, the mystery writer is a Goodreads Author and can be found here:

Former publisher of New Orleans magazine, Coast magazine and Coast Business Journal. he lives in Oxford, MS, where he owns a small publishing company.
More about Neil W. White III...

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