Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Letters from Alcatraz” as Want to Read:
Letters from Alcatraz
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Letters from Alcatraz

3.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  325 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Letters from Alcatraz features an impressive collection of original correspondence from inmates both on-and-off the Rock. Their letters capture the true essence of life in prison, with fresh and historical insights to their sufferings and occasional triumphs. It is a finer example of history from one of America's most historical treasures. This rare collection features man ...more
Kindle Edition, 312 pages
Published October 7th 2008 by Ocean View Publishing
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Letters from Alcatraz, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Letters from Alcatraz

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 993)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 03, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
I read this on the plane home from San Francisco. I went to visit Alcatraz for the first time yesterday and standing in the bookstore on the island I wanted to get the best book that told the most stories about the inmates. They weren't allowed contact with the outside world - no magazines, newspapers, TV or radio. They were allowed letters from their families but the prison opened them first and retyped them if there was any information on what was happening outside the walls in them. They then ...more
Joann Kuster
Mar 03, 2014 Joann Kuster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great depiction of life on Alcatraz. Reading the words written by the men who lived there and endured the path they chose was not only history, but the human soul and spirit at work. To read the personal writings of notorious criminals makes you see them as normal as you and I. And yet, they have been sentenced to a life of solitude with none of the pleasures that we enjoy. Very well written and documented, although I would have liked to see more letters of response from wardens and o ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Lynne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started out thinking I would rate this book with 4 stars, because I didn't know much about Alcatraz and found the history, as well as the inmates' letters interesting. However, about two thirds of the way through the book the letters started to get rather repetitious in their content and I had to force myself to read the last quarter of the book just in case there was one out-of-the-ordinary letter I might miss.
Jan 02, 2014 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book pretty interesting. Only things that were a little distracting were the editing (I found a few errors) and I really wish the letters were in chronological order. Other than those minor things, I found it interesting & it was a fast read.
Oct 13, 2013 MiLi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historia
Si bien se presenta como un libro de correspondencias, se trata de una radiografía completa de Alcatraz contada a través de la historia de algunos de los prisioneros más conocidos de la historia: Al Capone, Robert Stroud, Machine Gun Kelly, Mickey Cohen, entre otros.

El contenido está desarrollado a partir de información que el autor, Michael Esslinger , dejó de lado en un libro más completo que cuenta la historia de Alcatraz de principio a fin, con entrevistas a ex presidiarios, guaridas y direc
Oct 03, 2014 Amelia rated it it was amazing
Uggers, I would not have wanted to be in Alcatraz. No books, no magazines, no nothing except heavily redacted letters from the outside.

The book starts good and the author is great, but the letters and their personal authors are a tad on the boring side. Nothing to be done about that and not Micheal’s fault.

The books is what it is and it is done good for it. (Oh funny me.)
Natalie Maguire
Jan 23, 2016 Natalie Maguire rated it really liked it
A great insight and perspective of Alcatraz through letters from the people that actually experienced it, along with their family and friends. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of Alcatraz or its inmates of long ago.
Emily Rodolff
This book is about as good as I expected it to be. I did find it interesting, and enjoyed reading the stories of some of History's most notorious criminals and gangsters, and while I was somewhat curious about their "back-stories" I do not feel compelled to do any further research.
Sep 04, 2011 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very interesting. I found it haunting to hear the voices of prisoners and their loved ones through the letters sent to and from Alcatraz at the time. Very moving, especially after having seen the island first-hand.

The only thing that could have made this book better would be better organization. It seemed that the author and editors were thinking more of how to get the letters to fit on the page in a visually appealing way than putting them in chronologically. While this did effec
Michael Webb
Oct 09, 2014 Michael Webb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, but kind of gets repetitive
Vanessa Perez
It should have been titled "letters from Leavenworth" because 75% of correspondence was from, well, Leavenworth USP. It was the same letter, over and over, written by different famous criminals. No real insight to how prison life was. The author did a good job at background descriptions but overall the flow of the book was monotonous and disconnected. It would have maybe read better had I been able to zoom in on the small pictures of the handwritten letters (I suggest paperback or an ereader wit ...more
Dec 08, 2013 Angel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book SO much. The insights into the personal notes and lives of the inmates was unbelievable. I loved the photographs and telegraphs.
There were some issues where some letters were duplicated out of order prior to transference to print and this was annoying. I wish the telegraphs were all transcribed to print. Also some grammar issues, outside of the letters.
Will read more by this author - has another book about Alcatraz and one about Veruca Salt!
Douglas Castagna
Feb 15, 2013 Douglas Castagna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awesome pictures and backstory of the prisoners. Some letters were cool and insightful but most of them were a bit on the boring side, all in all this may be best viewed on something newer than a kindle keyboard because the pages of the actual letters and correspondence, as well as the inmates ids were cool and would have been awesome to read. I looked at a few on my computer and wished I was able to do so on my device. Perhaps I will revisit this when I upgrade.
Jan 24, 2012 Ivy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books-read
This book told about the history of Alcatraz and what it was like to live there. It also has letters written by the inmates to family and prison officials.

It was well written but was also slow in some places. I found it interesting from a history point of view and even learned a few things that I didn't know about The Rock.
Michael Mueller
Feb 07, 2016 Michael Mueller rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting but, given its non-story telling nature, took me a long time to work through.
Dec 15, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
An interesting collection of stories from some of Alcatraz's notorious prisoners. Pretty entertaining and it seems historically sound.
Jan 23, 2012 Sabrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't really read this book, I'm just using it for the second time that I read Alcatraz vs the Scrinever's Bones.
Jan 29, 2014 TiaMaria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the premise of this book but it really failed to hold my attention. I have up only 30 pages in.
Rachel McQuoid
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I enjoyed it very much especially after seeing Alcatraz in person. What a depressing place.
Dec 03, 2013 Mert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting read. A good book to pick up now and then and read a little at a time.
Aug 02, 2013 Velvetink marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
kindle cloud ed
Suzanne Thomas
Suzanne Thomas marked it as to-read
Jun 26, 2016
Robert Irish
Robert Irish rated it it was amazing
Jun 25, 2016
Freakie Deakie
Freakie Deakie rated it really liked it
Jun 21, 2016
Donna added it
Jun 17, 2016
Anjanette rated it really liked it
Jun 13, 2016
Kristy Cox
Kristy Cox rated it it was amazing
Jun 12, 2016
Bette Anne
Bette Anne rated it it was amazing
Jun 08, 2016
Joy Jensen
Joy Jensen marked it as to-read
Jun 05, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 33 34 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • We Are Absolutely Not Okay: Fourteen Stories By Teenagers Who Are Picking Up the Pieces
  • Picnic at the Iron Curtain: A Memoir: From the fall of the Berlin Wall to Ukraine's Orange Revolution
  • World War II London Blitz Diary, Volume 1
  • My Emily
  • Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania
  • Strictly G.I.: The WWII Letters of Cpl.Wanda M. Renn
  • Remembering Judith
  • Beset: The Pursuit of Happiness in Times of Crisis
  • Dandy Detects (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #1.5)
  • Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam
  • The Last Mafioso: The Treacherous World of Jimmy Frantianno
  • Shots in the Dark: True Crime Pictures
  • The Girls Come Marching Home: Stories of Women Warriors Returning from the War in Iraq
  • I Want It Now! a Memoir of Life on the Set of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • My Funny Major Medical
  • The Wolf's Lair: Inside Hitler's Germany
  • Miracles and Mayhem in the ER: Unbelievable True Stories from an Emergency Room Doctor
  • The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe: The U.S. Army Air Forces Against Germany in World War II

Share This Book