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Solitary

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  770 ratings  ·  164 reviews
The extraordinary saga of a man who, despite spending four decades in solitary confinement for a crime of which he was innocent, inspired fellow prisoners, and now all of us, with his humanity
Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 3rd 2019 by Grove Press (first published March 5th 2019)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  770 ratings  ·  164 reviews


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Richard
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-ebook
Solitary by Albert Woodfox is a gruelling but rewarding work of non fiction.
In and out of jail as a young black man in the late 60s, Woodfox had a troubled start to manhood. A start he isn’t proud of. His fractured family was poor and life in urban Louisiana was hard. Racism was endemic and unquestioned.
When he finally ended up in the notorious Angola prison in 1969, on a very questionable charge of armed robbery, he was in for the long haul.
He received a 50 year sentence.
Albert Woodfox an
...more
Jenna
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bar clipart jail cell - Pencil and in color bar clipart jail cell

"I became living proof that we can survive the worst to change ourselves and our world, no matter where we are. Behind our resistance on the tiers, Herman, King, and I knew that only education would save us."

For more than 40 years, Albert Woodfox was kept in solitary confinement in a 9 X 6 foot cell 23 hours a day. 40 YEARS! I don't think I could handle that for a week, let alone decades. And yet he endured this torture, day after day, year after year, for a crime he didn't commit.

This book
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Moonkiszt
Some books are written by authors who yearn for the title, the mantle and all the goodies that go with the title of Author. Some tomes are acts of persuasion, beckoning conversion from one point of view to another. Some volumes are slick and polished marketing or branding materials for products or lifestyles or team-building manuals. And then there are some books that simply spill out; spill out from the lives of humans who are desperate to tell their tale. This is one of those.

It's
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Mehrsa
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Our prison system is cruel and inhumane. This book is one of the best prison memoirs I've ever read (exempting Mandela and Assata). Woodfox's book is not just about his experiences, but it is about the system in general and how it tried to diminish his dignity. He reclaimed it by joining the Black Panthers and organizing his prison to fight rape and other degrading things that the guards allowed. This book made me really depressed that we do this to other humans.
Calzean
Yikes what an indictment of the US legal and prison system. This is a book on many of the things wrong with the Land of the Brave. It is not much of an endorsement.
Woodfox's experiences in the aptly named prison Angola, Louisiana. It read like a war zone, ruled by despots with all the accompanying violence, rape, racism, corruptness and hopelessness. But Woodfox finds hope and strength in his adoption of Black Panther ideals of unity, helping others, strength in the face adversity.
He spends
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Lou
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Our resistance gave us an identity. Our identity gave us strength. Our strength gave us an unbreakable will.”
-Albert Woodfox

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
—Frederick Douglass

“[If ] any white man in the world says ‘Give me liberty, or give me death,’ the entire world applauds. When a black man
...more
Text Publishing
‘In beautifully poetic language that starkly contrasts the world he's describing, Woodfox awes and inspires. He illustrates the power of the human spirit, while illuminating the dire need for prison reform in the United States. Solitary is a brilliant blend of passion, terror and hope that everyone needs to experience.’
Shelf Awareness [starred review]

‘[A] profound book about friendship … told simply but not tersely…If the ending of this book does not leave you with tears pooling down in your
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Jo
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in the sense that people are still being treated differently because of the color of their skin. It seems so simple - we are all the same. Yet hate always seems to win. This book was disheartening, but hopeful. Mr. Woodfox clings to that hope. You can feel his hope reaching out and over the hate in the pages of this book. I would be honored to meet Mr. Woodfox one day. I would need to apologize. I would need to shake his hand.
Niklas Pivic
When Albert Woodfox was incarcerated and sentenced to quite a stretch in jail, he didn't know what to think, really; he was a teenager who'd got muddled up in basic criminal teenage stuff.

One of Woodfox's great strengths is his ability to express himself straightforwardly, without mucking up a line. As here:

The first time I was called a nigger by a white person I was around 12. I was waiting with dozens of other kids at the end of the Mardi Gras parade behind the Municipal Auditorium where the
...more
Sam toer
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An scathing indictment to cruel and inhumane prison system.
Suzanne
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
Some books we read to bear witness; to acknowledge the pain and suffering our country causes her own citizens to bear. Albert Woodcox was sent to prison, once there his life became a living hell. Accused of a crime there that he did not commit, he was held in solitary confinement for decades. Decades. This book explains his experience and the struggle for his release. Prison reform is but the tip of the iceberg in the change needed to rectify what happened to him. This book is important to read. ...more
Brian Wraight
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Please just read it. Woodfox isn’t the first person to suffer at the hands of America’s broken criminal justice system and, as long as the prison industrial complex and systemic racism continue to chug along and get away with it, he most certainly won’t be the last. Yes, he’s one of many. Yes, it’s a story that we’ve heard before. And that’s exactly why his story is important and needs to be told.
K
Truly amazing. Prisons are sexual and anti-Black violence. Abolish them all. Albert is a genius.
Katie/Doing Dewey
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary:This was a powerful story showing the human cost of systemic problems.

This is the memoir of Albert Woodfox, a man who survived more than 40 years of solitary confinement imposed for a crime he didn't commit. As you might expect, a lot of the power of this book came from the author's experiences. It was absolutely incredible how he was able to focus on the people who helped him, rather than on those who wronged him. The purpose he found in his life is inspiring.

The writing felt simple and
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Donna Lewis
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible book. Albert Woodfox grew up in a poor section of New Orleans. In the 50s and 60s, he was a petty criminal. Arrested as a teenager, he spent time in four different prisons before being exposed to the Black Panthers, who taught him that “you don’t fight fire with fire, you fight fire with water.” He learned how to not give in to fear. Along with two other Angola inmates (Herman and King) he focused on passive resistance and using education to save themselves. Because of ...more
Lynn
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An African American teen with a criminal record went to jail many times. Then he got framed for a prison murder and spent 40 years (yes 40 years) in Solitary Confinement and survived intact. This book is inspirational and provides a masterclass on what is wrong with our criminal justice system, particually if you are black. How did he survive?: Guts, tenancity, education, discipline, humanity, Black Panthers. He became a Black Panther and talked about what that meant to him. I found this part ...more
Tiffany Anne
This is one of those memoirs that makes me wish I was better at writing reviews. Woodfox has a very important story to share—it gives you insight into so many still relevant issues. From poverty, prison conditions, the negative impact on prolonged solitary confinement, failure within a legal system that claims to protect its citizens & racism both within prison and without. It’s a story of hope, loss, triumph, heartbreak & anger. I don’t give star ratings to memoirs, I won’t put a number ...more
Christina Stroff
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough 16 hours. Amazing story of hope, faith, and resilience. I can not imagine surviving one week yet alone 4 decades of solitary confinement.
Melissa Luna
This is the story of the Angola 3, who spent decades in solitary confinement in a slave plantation-turned-prison in Louisiana.

Beneath the word SOLITARY, I see the word SOLIDARITY. Solidarity between the three men who were moved by the black panther party in the late sixties to change their lives and the lives of those around them. Solidarity in the struggle for survival and human rights against all odds, solidarity between these prisoners and their supporters on the outside who number in the
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Chet Taranowski
Although the story is powerful and my admiration for the author is great, I found myself skimming parts of the book as the descriptions of the legal appeals went on endlessly. I found the story of his life before incarceration more interesting. Yet, there is no question that the author was quite a person to endure what he did.
Lori
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every American needs to read this book. My perspective and understanding is now deeper and broader. I’m still processing what I read so will have to edit this review later.
Ben Truong
Solitary is an autobiography written by Albert Woodfox. This memoir chronicles a man who spent four decades in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit tells his shocking story.

Albert Woodfox spent forty-three years in solitary confinement. He was released in February 2016, but says he is still adapting to life outside. He had been in solitary confinement in Angola prison, the state penitentiary of Louisiana, since April 1972 for the murder of prison guard Brent Miller. Along with
...more
Liam Byrnes
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came to this book from the NYT books of the Year. It is a compelling story of Albert Woodfox's decades in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. The writing and narrative are powerful, and Woodfox balances the story of his case, connections with people outside the prison, and visceral descriptions of the carceral state. It is a gripping and powerful text that not only reinvigorated my desire to work in prison education/advocacy, but also acknowledge the systemic forces of racism ...more
Sydney Lee
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is both inspiring and heart-breaking. Institutionalized racism led to Albert Woodfox's experience of four decades in solitary confinement, with only one hour each day to leave his six-by nine foot cell. He experienced conditions of extreme racism from prison guards at Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, thousands of episodes of claustrophobia due to his inability to escape from the confines of his cell in CCR, and countless other human rights violations and feelings of loss and ...more
Manny
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing book. Although I disagree with the political views of the Black Panthers, since they are a Marxist organization, I must remove my hat and commend Albert Woldfox for the way he carried himself in prison. He was a convict but not a thug. What they did to Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox is unrcontionable. Woodfox, Wallace and King where held in solitary confinement in sub-human conditions for an extended period of time. In Woodfox's case, over 40 Years.

This book
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Michael Allen
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Ashmore
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very hard to read book. It starts out with his life in crime as a petty thief, then druggie, then armed robbery. Then went on to describe the injustices of the criminal justice and prison system. And the horrors of Angola, the worst prison in the US, located in the backwards state of Louisiana. All very hard to read. It is amazing that he was able to keep his head up and become a crusader for criminal justice reform.
Grant Tietjen
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exhaustively comprehensive story (but worth every minute of reading time) of the tireless struggle to overcome incomprehensible injustices perpetuated by the racist Louisiana criminal justice system over the course of more than four decades. Never during the course of reading a story, have I been so simultaneously enraged and wearied by the magnitude of blatant racism and egregious miscarriages of justice perpetuated against African American men in the criminal justice system. This book ...more
Hannah
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really struggled to finish this book. The beginning narrative is really interesting, but about 1/3 of the way through the book just becomes a litany of legal motions, names of attorneys and advocates, and descriptions of abusive treatment. While the story itself is moving, the manner in which it is told is not; it was a slog to get to the last page, for me.
Linda
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This has to be the most emotionally difficult book I've ever read. And perhaps the most eye-opening. There is really nothing I can say to add to the book's narrative. Mr. Woodfox deserves so much respect and awe for surviving both physically and emotionally. Thank you for writing this book.
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“You want me to believe that I’m OK when you know I’m not OK.” 0 likes
“In my forties, I chose to take my pain and turn it into compassion, and not hate. Whenever I experienced pain of any origin I always made a promise to myself never to do anything that would cause someone else to suffer the pain I was feeling in that moment. I still had moments of bitterness and anger. But by then I had the wisdom to know that bitterness and anger are destructive. I was dedicated to building things, not tearing them down.” 0 likes
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