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The Hot House


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About the Author

Pete Earley is a storyteller who has penned seventeen books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Hot House and Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. After a fourteen-year career in journalism, including six years at The Washington Post, Earley became a full-time author with a commitment to exposing the stories that entertain and surprise.


With the cooperation of the Bureau of Prisons, Earley ( Family of Spies ) spent much time from mid-1987 to mid-1989 at Leavenworth, a maximum-security institution whose nickname, the Hot House, derives from its lack of air conditioning despite the searing Kansas summers. Interviewing the warden, the guards from captains on down and the convicts, many of whom are imprisoned for shocking crimes, the author takes readers into the mind of the recidivist criminal to show an egoistic, violent nature locked into a code of behavior with elements of machismo, hyper-sensitivity to slights and the conviction that informing is the greatest crime of all. There is also hatred of guards, who hate back, all this played out against a backdrop of racism, sexual exploitation, constant tension and sometimes gratuitous cruelty by the staff and the bureau toward the inmates. A remarkable book. (Feb.)

Leavenworth Prison, nicknamed ``the hot house'' because of its lack of ventilation, has the most dangerous inmates and the most repressive conditions in the country. Journalist Earley ( Prophet of Death: The Mormon Blood-Atonement Killings , LJ 11/1/91; Family of Spies , Bantam, 1988) spent two years interviewing the inmates and employees of Leavenworth Prison. Here, he provides portraits of five convicts, two guards, and the warden. Although he includes many poignant facts about life inside this modern-day penal colony, Earley's presentation is uneven, often promising more than it yields. The emphasis is on sensationalism rather than analysis or exposition. While this is an acceptable approach, Earley often fails to give the reader an absorbing story. The episodes are disjointed and do not always add up to the kind of climax one would expect from the material. An optional purchase. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/91.-- Frances Sandiford, Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, N.Y.

"A page-turner, as compelling and evocative as the finest novel. The best book on prison I've ever read."--Jonathan Kellerman

"Reporting at its very finest."--Los Angeles Times "The book is a large act of courage, its subject an important one, and . . . [Pete] Earley does it justice."--The Washington Post Book World "[A] riveting, fiercely unsentimental book . . . To [Earley's] credit, he does not romanticize the keepers or the criminals. His cool and concise prose style serves him well. . . . This is a gutsy book."--Chicago Tribune "Harrowing . . . an exceptional work of journalism."--Detroit Free Press "If you're going to read any book about prison, The Hot House is the one. . . . It is the most realistic, unbuffed account of prison anywhere in print."--Kansas City Star

"A superb piece of reporting."--Tom Clancy

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