With Liberty for Some
500 Years of Imprisonment in America
by Scott Christianson
Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Distinguished Honors
“With more than two million Americans in prison today, Scott Christianson moves the issue toward the top of the national agenda and provides the historical and social context for all subsequent discussions of a most tormenting concern.”
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
New York State Writer's Institute
Scott Christianson - December 10, 1998 at 8:00 p.m.
A Reading at New York's Labyrinth Bookstore
“Fascinating... the evidence he marshals is simply too massive to ignore.”
“From Columbus’s voyages to the New World through today’s prison movements, captivity has played an important, yet disconcerting role in American history. In this sweeping reexamination of imprisonment in the United States, Scott Christianson exposes the hidden record of the nation’s prison heritage and explores some of the forces underlying the paradox of a country that sanctifies individual liberty even as it continues to build and maintain a huge and growing complex of totalitarian institutions in its midst.”
Northeastern University Press
"Eloquent, incisive and deeply disturbing, this book tells what imprisonment has meant in the American experience. Those who value justice, freedom and equality under law should take heed."
Mario M. Cuomo
"Christianson's awesome scholarship and cogent analysis shows why the American prison undermines the very foundations of a democratic society."
H. Bruce Franklin author of Prison Writing in 20th-Century America
“penetrating, thought-provoking... This work is especially noteworthy for its cogent examination of the nexus between incarceration and slavery through American history, making it a seminal chronicle of this nation’s prison heritage. What also marks this as a compelling account is the author’s inclusion of personal stories from prisoners and guards alike. Recommended for all libraries."
“it offers a new and useful effort to understand the `repositories of failure,’ hidden from everyday life.”
“A solid contribution to the criminal justice field.”
“The author is a skilled storyteller with an eye for unexpected information.”
“Presents an intriguing and informative chronicle, weaving together accounts of slavery and prisoners of war with the more conventional jailing of convicted criminals... throughout the description is evenhanded and professional.”
“brilliantly and lyrically examines prisons in historical and social context. This book will sit comfortably on the shelf with the work of David Rothman and Michel Foucault and take its place with the work of Gresham Sykes and Donald Clemmer."
Fred Cohen, State University of New York at Albany
"A remarkable scholarly achievement, WITH LIBERTY FOR SOME is at the same time eminently readable and full of fascinating anecdotes, which makes it satisfying for both the specialist and the non-specialist. Anyone desiring to better grasp the paradoxes which inhere in the American criminal corrections system will find WITH LIBERTY FOR SOME gripping reading."
The Law and Politics Book Review
“clear, balanced and thoughtful. In a terrific, powerful conclusion, Christianson demonstrates that in our age, as in the past, prisons reflect the culture in which they are embedded.”
(London) Times Literary Supplement
“Reminds us on every page of the paradoxes inherent in a penal system, that is based on total control of an individual and how tenuous our hold is on human rights within our ‘free’ society.”
Elaine Lord, Superintendent, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
Return to Main Page