Sing Sing by Denis Brian
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Sing Sing
By Denis Brian

Sing Sing

The Inside Story of a Notorious Prison

By (author) See other recent books by Denis Brian
Format: Hardback

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Sing Sing by Denis Brian

Book Description

On May 14, 1825, one hundred mute, dispirited convict-labourers disembarked from steamers at Mount Pleasant, New York. They had been transported in chains nearly three hundred miles from Auburn Prison in upstate New York for the purpose of constructing a new maximum-security prison near a village on the Hudson. Wielding pick axes and shovels, they worked under brutal supervision for five years, building the grim structure out of the rock underfoot, rusty scrap iron, and granite from a local quarry. Overseeing their slave labour was the sadistic Elam Lynds, formerly the warden in Auburn and soon to be the first master of Sing Sing prison. So begins Denis Brian's gripping history of one of America's most notorious prisons. For most of the 19th century, Sing Sing was a bastion of inhumane treatment, where guards made every effort to break the spirit of inmates by a fanatic rule of silence enforced by shockingly brutal punishments and tortures - floggings with metal-tipped whips, the Chinese water cure, the Cage, the Crucifix, the Ball and Chain, and more. In 1891, Sing Sing witnessed its first electrocution, which was reportedly a terrible fiasco. This was followed by 613 additional electrocutions of both men and women. In addition, we learn that electricity genius Thomas Edison was a great proponent of this method. Based on extensive research with original sources, Brian's narrative covers every period of the prison's chequered history, from the awful conditions of the 19th century to the relative improvements of the 20th century to today. In 1920, a dramatic turnaround occurred, when one of criminology's most progressive wardens, Lewis Lawes, took over. In command for twenty-one years, Lawes - who believed in reforming prisoners, not just punishing them - brought almost miraculous changes for the better. During the 20th century, Sing Sing held such infamous prisoners as members of Murder Incorporated, the Lonely Hearts Killers, Albert 'the cannibal' Fish, Lucky Luciano, Louis Lepke, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Brian recounts their stories and throws in 'cameos' of such diverse visiting luminaries as Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle, Johnny Cash, John Cheever, and Mother Teresa. Sing Sing has witnessed it all: from daring, ingenious escapes and the first blood donations by prisoners to inmates volunteering to be injected with syphilis in the interest of medical science. Brian's story ends with a glimpse of Sing Sing in the recent past and today, based on his interviews with the present warden, Brian Fischer; prison guards; a prison psychiatrist; and the daughter of Sing Sing's last executioner. A must for fans of true crime, criminology, and urban American history, Brian's powerfully told story is both a dramatic page-turner and a definitive history.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781591023579
ISBN-10: 1591023572
Format: Hardback
(228mm x 152mm x 23mm)
Pages: 275
Imprint: Prometheus Books
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publish Date: 7-Nov-2005
Country of Publication: United States

Books By Author Denis Brian

Elected and the Chosen by Denis Brian Elected and the Chosen, Paperback (September 2012)

The Elected and the Chosen: Why American Presidents Have Supported Jews and Israel This book reveals how and why, almost without exception, American presidents sought to protect Jews at home and abroad from their often deadly enemies. It explains why American presidents have admired and befriended Jews.

Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson by Denis Brian Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson, Hardback (July 2008)

Colonel John Henry Patterson was an Irish-born soldier, lion hunter, bridge builder, East African game warden, author, man-about-town, and Zionist. This biography traces Patterson's life from his days as a British socialite to his command of the Jewish Legion of volunteers who helped drive the Turks out of Palestine.

Voice of Genius by Denis Brian Voice of Genius, Paperback (December 2000)

Nobel Prize winners and other scientific greats reveal the secrets of the universe, human nature, and the mind.

» View all books by Denis Brian


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Author Biography - Denis Brian

Denis Brian is the widely acclaimed author of Einstein: A Life, Genius Talk, and The True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him, among other works.

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