Book review: Solitary — by Albert Woodfox

(Grove Press)  

Albert Woodfox, who spent 43 years and 10 months in solitary confinement, and Robert King,  who spent 29 years in solitary, two of the Angola Three housed at the notorious Angola Penitentiary, spoke at Harvard Law School on March 8, 2017. Woodfox was quoted as saying, “Confinement is unnecessary evil which exists because society sanctions it.” His story, as put forth in “Solitary,” a National Book Award Finalist, is, most remarkably, of hope and transformation. It is revealing in the way that only someone who has lived through what Woodfox, an insider, has lived through could possibly communicate. It is authentic and moving. It is a lesson in acceptance and mindfulness, yet it isn’t presented that way, nor does it pretend to be that way. This is a powerful, powerful book. It is impossible to put down once you have picked it up and unforgettable once you have finished reading it. It is absolutely astonishing that he was able to emerge from his ordeal relatively intact and beyond miraculous that he was able to create this honest testament to his experiences. Woodfox was a committed activist in prison, and he remains so today. Many people who read this book may feel compelled to act as well.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.

 

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