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Belmarsh: Hell (A Prison Diary #1)

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,347 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
'The sun is shining through the bars of my window on what must be a glorious summer day. I've been incarcerated in a cell five paces by three for twelve and a half hours, and will not be let out again until midday; eighteen and a half hours of solitary confinement. There is a child of seventeen in the cell below me who has been charged with shoplifting - his first offence, ...more
Published (first published January 1st 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carla René
May 20, 2011 Carla René rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Honestly, I do NOT know what all the flap is about Jeffrey Archer being such a piss-poor writer. I downloaded one of his free short-stories back in the winter from his "And Thereby Hangs a Tale" collection, and after just a few paragraphs in, I was immediately taken on an amazingly tantalising and tactile journey that pulled my emotions along in a very seamless manner.

His story-telling skills are incredibly sharp and finely-honed, and in that regard, he reminds me very much of Dan Brown or J.K.
...more
Wendy Soliman
Feb 02, 2011 Wendy Soliman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I make no apology for being an avid Jeffrey Archer fan. I think his novels are cracking good escapism. So there! I was however a bit apprehensive about reading his first prison diary. It was going to be full of Jeff feeling sorry for himself and berating everyone except himself, wasn't it?

Well, no, actually. There was very little of that. Instead the insight into the prison service and some of its more off-the-wall rules had me laughing, crying and full of righteous indignation as the book progr
...more
Ensiform
Apr 19, 2012 Ensiform rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, justice
The millionaire author and lord is sentenced to four years for perjury (he elides over the specifics of his case), and details his 21 days at London’s Belmarsh Prison while waiting on appeal. It’s an interesting look at the British penal system, which seems to suffer from some of the same defects at the American one (too many inside for drugs, too many first offenders turned into career criminals by associating with them on the inside, not nearly enough education or other incentives to improve). ...more
Stacy
Aug 07, 2013 Stacy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this on audio and it wasn’t until I was done and looked on Archer’s website that I realized this was Part I:Hell. There are two more parts, Purgatory and Heaven where he chronicles the rest of his two years behind bars. I will not be reading either of those. It is not because he is a person who does not summon sympathy (although he doesn’t), it is because this book was boring. And if part one is called Hell and is boring, well, how much more monotonous can parts two and three be? I ...more
Patrick O'Neil
Lord Archer got convicted and sent to prison.
Lord Archer met some unsavory characters while in said prison.
Lord Archer met some criminals that weren't so bad.
Lord Archer met convicts who were a product of their environment.
Lord Archer mingled with society's rejects and lived.
Lord Archer admits to the judicial system being a failure.
Lord Archer is still a pretentious prat - however he almost redeemed himself writing this book.

Almost.
Karen
Nov 29, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


As with all Archer's books this is brilliantly written. Unlike anything he's ever written this is a real eye opener.
Can't wait to read the next 2 parts.
Tony
Aug 20, 2015 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new
The upper class Delboy of the Common spends some time in jail.

Actually Jef meets a real life Delboy in the clink...

Its all been said on here. Archer gets banged up and spends the entire book moaning about the food and acting as if hes on a survival program. Its exactly the kind of thing one would imagine from a Conservative Toff who has to live among the rif raf. Pretty much everyone bows to his lordship. The good old British class system automatically kicks in, even in prison - and people know
...more
Krista
As I walk my doggy for an hour and a half every day, I like to take advantage of the time listening to audio books. With respect to the narrators, I get impatient with one person doing the voices of multiple characters, so I tend to listen to nonfiction, and for the past while, have been downloading mostly memoirs. As this title also fit into my mild interest in true crime and incarceration, I thought it would be a good choice for me.

I must admit that I've never read any of Archer's fiction, but
...more
Talia Carner
Oct 22, 2013 Talia Carner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best part about listening to audio books is the ability to determine when a piece of writing is overwrought or too verbose. Since I cannot skip a paragraph or a page, often, this malady makes me quit the book and choose another. This was not the case with Jeffery Archer’s memoir of his first three weeks in prison. I listened to it even when I had only 10 minutes drive because I wanted to hear more.

The fall from greatness alone creates tension: Archer was not only a bestselling novelist but a
...more
Ahsan Ali Gardezi
It took me some time but I finally finished it.
The book itself is a mush of hate, political discussions, and the author's next campaign goals all combined. Not to mention the author's humiliation of anyone who did not treat him in a special manner and anyone who just did his job.
On the positive note this is written more from an observer's point of view, which in fact is how Mr. Archer would feel quite understandably inside the British penal system, being a "model citizen" most of his life.
Some
...more
Stephanie Vaccarello
Interesting insights into prison life and the British penal system but too sanctimonious for me.
Jessie
Feb 10, 2009 Jessie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author spent two years in prison. This first book of three tells about his first 3 weeks in a high security prison. It is eye-opening and sad. Some of the prisoner language is coarse. One of the prisoners told his story and it made me realize what a sheltered life I have led. I didn't want to know that about people. Scott and I listened to this book together. We choose to read this book because he took many of his ideas from A Prisoner of Birth, which we really enjoyed from this prison exper ...more
K2 -----
Dec 06, 2015 K2 ----- rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Little did I know this was a trilogy until the book was done, having said that I will read the next volume.

For those who are familiar with the prison system in the US this seems like a rather tame telling of a fall from grace and a man used to being pampered at the mercy of the system. It was hard to read it without hearing the British accent and imagining a Yank telling the same tale with much less forgiveness and grace.

Having read this and knowing what I know about the US Prison system ten pl
...more
Arabella
Aug 31, 2009 Arabella rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Such an annoying, arrogant, obnoxious man, so I have to say a large part of my pleasure in reading this book was a certain amount of schadenfreude. But it does also provide an interesting fly on the wall view into what everyday life in prison is like (and a high category prison for rapists and murderers at that); the tedium, the bad food, the mindless bureaucracy, and yet more tedium.

A quick easy read (like most Jeffrey Archer books).
Callan
At the age of 61, Jeffrey Archer received a four-year prison sentence for perjury relating to something he had done back in the 1980s. Hell (A Prison Diary, #1) details the month that he spent at the beginning of his sentence in HMP Belmarsh, a category A prison in London.

I found this to be a very insightful look into what life is like inside a British prison. Archer records some very shocking testimonies from his fellow inmates, many of whom are serving life sentences for murder ( He was place
...more
Tanya
Feb 26, 2015 Tanya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this today, completely ignorant of who Archer is, never having read anything of his before. The book was entertaining enough. It's probably a pretty accurate rendition of prison in the UK. I'm fairly sure that prison in the U.S. is much less pleasant. He gets to wear his own clothes, and never truly fears for his safety, after all. He gets his mail regularly and his commissary is delivered to his cell. It's clear that though he doesn't realize it, he is protected and treated well by the m ...more
Rabid Washcloth
Pretty boring peek into prison life. The only interesting moments came when he dove a little deeper into the lives of those around him.

I didn't know much about Archer outside of his books, but I did a little background research once I started reading this. It seemed like Archer just used the book as a means to express his innocence (which I don't care about either way) and to reiterate the idea that his prison sentence was not a cakewalk. Only thing...his sentence appeared to be relatively tame
...more
Richard Mulholland
Outstanding.
Ray Kelly
A Prison Dairy – Volume 1: Hell, is Jeffrey Archer’s first book about his life in a high security prison in England. In 2001 he was convicted of perjury, arising out of his libel suit against a tabloid newspaper some years earlier, from which he had profited enormously. His conviction occurred as a result of new evidence indicating that there had been a conspiracy, instigated by Archer himself, to 'prove' that he could not possibly have been with a prostitute on the night in question. Convicted ...more
Indah Threez Lestari
730 - 2013

Seperti halnya Arswendo Atmowiloto yang menulis tentang pengalamannya selama menjalani kehidupan di penjara Indonesia, Jeffrey Archer menuliskan pengalamannya selama berada di penjara Inggris dalam bentuk Prison Diary, yang disusun dalam tiga volume dengan sub judul yang sama dengan karya Dante Alighieri.

Volume pertama ini, mengisahkan 21 hari pengalamannya di penjara Belmarsh, penjara maximum security yang sering diplesetkan dengan nama Hellmarsh. Dan meskipun sudah banyak membaca buk
...more
Jim
Almost like an episode of the BBC comedy "Porridge" without the laughs - one of the main characters is actually named Fletch - Archer dons a stiff upper lip as he spends a few weeks of his original jail sentence in the high security Belmarsh prison. This is where the lifers, the murderers, the armed robbers, the serious crime merchants are housed, along with people like Archer who are passing through while a more "open" prison can be found for them. Archer, "Lord Jeff" fits right in, keeping thi ...more
Gan See Siong
Reading it was like chewing gum (what was that brand?); sweet at first then you continue chewing it because chewing gum should stay in the mouth till the sweetness has gone out, till you have 'finished' with it. You admire the man's discipline; devoting some 2 to 4 hours...no 6 hours each day writing his diary (and of course quite a few encounters which were the basis for his other short story collections). The Diary chronicles his 22 days incarceration at a double A category high security priso ...more
Sundarraj Kaushik
Despite the allegations against him one cannot deny the flair that Lord Archer has for writing. He has the ability to captivate his audience. This book is the diary that he kept when was in prison, serving a period for perjury. It is hard to say whether he deserved it or not. There were enough who felt he deserved it and he did get lots of mail sympathizing with his situation. His wife and family stood by him throughout the ordeal.
The book on the whole is readable. The short snippets of the life
...more
Devraj
Aug 17, 2011 Devraj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the beginning of the story, I thought that this was another fictional story crafted by Jeffrey Archer, but then it was in first person and there was way too much description and then I googled Archer and he did go to prison.
The story begins when he is first convicted and it is very biased towards the author. He starts off in the hospital ward because he is on suicidal watch. Then he moves to another wing, where he makes friends and everybody goes to him because he is a world renowned author.
...more
Sharon
Jul 31, 2013 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first of his prison diary books follows Archer’s 22 days in London’s Category A high security prison Belmarsh, which he shares with 32 murderers and 17 other lifers mainly convicted of attempted murder or manslaughter.
His mother dies on the last day of his trial and it starts off with the funeral, of which he is allowed to attend, and here he has to contend with the mass media interest at the church and at his home in Grantchester.
Then he is incarcerated on the lifer’s wing. The rest of th
...more
Lesley
Jan 15, 2016 Lesley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Not so much an expose but rather a peak into the british prison system through the eyes of a privileged former MP and current Lord, as well as accomplished writer, Jeffrey Archer. It takes a while to get going, as it would do, so the best to say about it is that it feels true to life and as time goes on Archer acknowledges more and more the failings of uk social services and prison justice and the value in the hearts and minds of many of his fellow prisoners.
Sarah-jane
Feb 25, 2015 Sarah-jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, because Archer's style of writing is a great blend of fact, good writing and wit. Nothing sappy or melodramatic about his prose, just first class non-fiction that reads like a best selling novel. On the strength of this book, I looked up his bio and learned about his life in and out of politics. I have Parts 2 and 3 of Prison Diary on my wish list
Linda
This was a wonderful diary of Mr. Archer's first few weeks in Belmarsh Prison in England. He has learned so much, much more than you can learn from your armchair and he has become very sympathetic to his fellow inmates. He was put in the "lifers" section with the belief that life prisoners just want a quiet life and will protect the more vulnerable.

I am looking forward to reading the second Prison Diary "Purgatory".
Alice Black
Oct 17, 2015 Alice Black rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Prison Diary is unlike anything I have read before. It details the experiences Jeffrey Archer faced when going to prison, the friends and acquaintances he made and the things he found out. He writes this all down in an easy-to-read format allowing the reader to follow not only his daily life at Belmarsh but how he feels and what he's thinking.

A good and informative read.
Ben John
Sep 21, 2014 Ben John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprised I liked this as much as I did. Thought it was going to be your typical upper-class version of 'prison life' of which he'd have experience little but it would have been quite the shock for the toffy nosed git! He's obviously one talented dude and all of that talent was needed to survive and survive and thrive he did. Good upbringing and education can be adapted.
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Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician.

He was a Member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered several controversies, ended after a conviction for perverting the course of justice and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married
...more
More about Jeffrey Archer...

Other Books in the Series

A Prison Diary (3 books)
  • Purgatory (A Prison Diary, #2)
  • Heaven (A Prison Diary, #3)

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