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Birdman of Alcatraz

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  174 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
It was "The Rock." Thirteen acres in the middle of San Francisco Bay, home to the most dangerous men of their time. There was no gas chamber, no gallows, no quick way out. Sealed off and separate, it brooded over its inmates.

Robert Stroud, grandson of a judge, was one. Sentenced to life in solitary confinement, he found solace in the birds that landed outside his cell wind

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First Edition, 254 pages
Published 1956 by Gollancz (first published 1955)
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GoldGato
The Birdman of Alcatraz was really the Birdman of Leavenworth, but Leavenworth is in the middle of the Great Empty while Alcatraz shines on the San Francisco Bay. This is called Branding.

Robert Stroud was a convicted murderer with an IQ of 134. He first killed in revenge for an assault on his prostitute (he was a pimp). First he knocked the guy out, then shot him dead. He went to prison. There, he became notorious for his aggressive behaviour, feared by guards and inmates alike. He then killed a
...more
Emlikescake
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I hate birds, so I spent a lot of time wondering why on earth he'd want to save them all. But I loved the writing. Stroud's story seems completely unreal, and yet... such is the depressingly real nature of being held up as an example of a Bad Man inside an astoundingly bureaucratic jail system.
Marya
Jun 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I may have marked this as non-fiction, but this white-washed version of a psychopath and his crimes almost makes it a fairy tale. When Stroud murders a man for not paying and roughing up a prostitute Stroud pimps, Gaddis portrays it as a love-lorn youth set to avenge the mistreatment of his devoted lover. At every turn, the overwrought narration tries to excuse its protagonist from his violent actions, which completely confused me. How can Stroud be confined for decades, mostly in solitary, if h ...more
Angie Ackerman
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting if you are into the history of Alcatraz.
Pam
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a great and interesting book. I'm an avid bird watcher so I truly loved it
Meg Berquist
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I felt that this novel was very interesting and well written. I originally picked it up because I thought that it was about the famous escape from Alcatraz, but this book is in fact about a man who keeps birds in his cell. They are taken away from him when he is shipped to Alcatraz. My heart went out to poor Robert Stroud...such an amazing, dedicated person. I would never have survived the prison system.
Patti
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not knowing the true story at all, I found the book to be interesting and compelling. After finishing and reading the Wikipedia page, I was amazed at the liberties taken by Gaddis! Why not just write a fictional book loosely based on Stroud?
Kate
Mar 31, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this book was an utter disappointment. i wanted to learn about the psychopath that was robert stroud. gaddis was in love with stroud and it made for a romanticized story far from the truth of the cold murderer.
Patrick Book
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Great book, even if it's too bad it's considered "largely fictional" in how it portrays Stroud.
Hugh Atkins
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. Oldie but a goodie.
Kateri Ross
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it
So far so good...
Lisa B
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
book has been around forever - made into a movie - love love love it.
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Thomas E. Gaddis was an American author, most noted for his book Birdman of Alcatraz (1955), about convicted murderer Robert Stroud.