Before I read this book, all I knew about Attica came from Dog Day Afternoon. In other words, I didn’t know much. The only reason I bought this book is that it won the Pulitzer, so I was curious. And what an unbelievable and all-too-believable.
The conditions at the prison and the retaking of the prison cannot be easily dismissed. Here we have the very definition of man’s inhumanity to man. How in the world could people let other people live under certain conditions? How could they treat them the way the prison employees, the way the prison doctors, treated those prisoners? I don’t want to gloss over any part of this.
But the way the state of New York then fought so desperately to change the narrative, to hide the narrative, to punish those who’d been punished too much and to ignore those who deserved so much more (and here I mean both the prisoners and the hostages) was just astonishing. To read this book is to look into the face of cold, calculating meanness. To send the families of the employees who’d died a check, a very small check, a very much needed check, as a way to guarantee that they couldn’t pursue other legal means of being compensated. . . I mean, who thinks like that?
And the way it all stretched out – for years and years and years. I’d be reading and Thompson would mention the date, and I’d find myself shocked at how long it took to even begin to right even a few of the very many wrongs that took place at Attica.
This is an amazing, well-narrated, powerful and necessary book.