tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Criminal Life: Views from the Inside

Criminal Life by David M. Petersen
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really liked it
bookshelves: crime, biography
Recommended for: sociologists & psychologists

Don't really know when I read this, 1978's a safe guess - probably not off by more than 5 yrs. This is a collection of 1st person stories of 'criminals' wch includes no less than William S. Burroughs himself writing about his "first days on junk" & George Orwell's "reflections of a tramp". Right from the start having texts from such well-known & respected authors presents the possibility that not all 'criminals' are 'bad guys'.

Letting the 'criminals' represent themselves increases the chances enormously that this bk is more realistic than anything someone like Bugliosi is ever likely to write. While 'criminals' are just as likely to have ulterior motives for misrepresenting themselves in a positive or pitiful light as a prosecutor is likely to have ulterior motives for representing themselves as the GOOD UPSTANDING CITIZEN, I'll trust the criminal accts more b/c, HEY!, they already have the shit-stained finger pointing at them so their 'guilt' is built into their autobiography at least a little - whereas the prosecutor is most likely to be presented as guilt-free - wch is highly unlikely to be 'true'.

At any rate, there's at least a diversity of 'criminal' viewpoints here. There's a Preface, a part dedicated to "Behavior Patterns of Offenders", "Prison", & "Issues in Criminology". All in all, this bk probably presents a more sympathetic look at 'criminal' sociology than otherwise. It certainly jives w/some of my personal experience. As such, it's very useful - esp in counterbalancing today's Cops as Heros TV propaganda. On the other hand, if one is going to get a sympathetic view of the more average & less violent 'criminality' then one shd also balance it w/ a contrary POV presented w/ a similar thoroughness.

As usual, who's a 'criminal' & who's not is in the mind of the beholder. I've been friends w/ plenty of illegal drug users, eg, & have been much less likely to be abused by them than by yr average football-lovin' drunk.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 1978 – Finished Reading
April 1, 2008 – Shelved
April 1, 2008 – Shelved as: crime
April 1, 2008 – Shelved as: biography

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