Publishers Weekly, 2000-05-01 To some, Abu-Jamal, convicted in the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer, is a cold-blooded cop killer, but to his supporters, the death-row inmate is a hero, wrongly condemned by a racist system. In this collection of forceful prison essays and radio talks written over the last decade (a sequel to Live from Death Row and Death Blossoms), former Black Panther Abu-Jamal maintains that he was targeted by the state because of his political beliefs and associations. He cites a recent Amnesty International report that calls for a new trial on the grounds that his 1982 trial was riddled with procedural errors and quite possibly contaminated by racism. Hanrahan, director of Prison Radio (which aired several of these commentaries after Abu-Jamal was pulled off the air by NPR's All Things Considered), describes Abu-Jamal's life in solitary confinement as a living hell and accuses prison authorities of constant harassment and censorship. Whatever one thinks of Abu-Jamal's guilt or innocence, his attack on capital punishment as a discriminatory, racist practice is compelling, as is his critique of our bloated prison system, which, according to an American Bar Association report cited here, is self-defeating because dehumanizing conditions produce more criminals. An outspoken political analyst, Abu-Jamal condemns Clinton's adoption of NAFTA, calls the war on drugs largely a "War on Blacks" and offers incisive commentary on rap music, the decline of African-American community life, police brutality and recent developments in Mexico, Peru, Iran and South Africa. (May) FYI: A CD accompanies the book, featuring Abu-Jamal's radio essays plus comments from Alice Walker, Cornel West, Martin Sheen, John Edgar Wideman and others. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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