Rattling the Cages


Dispatches from behind bars. Political prisoners speak out.

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Oral Histories of North American Political Prisoners

Edited by Josh Davidson and Eric King
Foreword by Angela Y. Davis
Introduction by Sarah Falconer
AK Press

The official story is that the United States has no political prisoners. The reality is that there are hundreds of people rounded up, placed behind bars, and kept there for inordinately long sentences because of their political beliefs and activities. A project of abolitionist Josh Davidson and political prisoner Eric King, this book is filled with the experience and wisdom of over thirty current and former North American political prisoners. It provides first-hand details of prison life and the political commitments that continue to lead prisoners into direct confrontation with state authorities and institutions. The people Josh Davidson has interviewed include former radicals and Black liberation militants from the sixties and seventies, current antifascists, nonviolent Catholic peace activists, Animal and Earth Liberation Front saboteurs, and more. Their stories are moving, often tragic, yet deeply inspiring.

Collectively, these people have spent hundreds of years behind bars, and their experiences speak directly to the cruelty and immorality of our prison and so-called criminal justice systems. Although their sentences and the conditions they have endured vary dramatically, this wide range of voices come together to embody what bell hooks called “a legacy of defiance.” It is this legacy—of tirelessly struggling to right today’s wrongs and create a better tomorrow—that the prison system tries, yet fails, to extinguish.

Contributors include: Donna Willmott, James Kilgore, Mark Cook, Rebecca Rubin, Hanif Shabazz Bey, Chelsea Manning, Oso Blanco, Ann Hansen, Sean Swain, Martha Hennessy, Jalil Muntaqim, Jeremy Hammond, Kojo Bomani Sababu, Laura Whitehorn, Eric King, Rattler, Ray Luc Levasseur, Elizabeth McAlister, Malik Smith, David Campbell, Xinachtli, David Gilbert, Susan Rosenberg, Daniel McGowan, Linda Evans, Herman Bell, Jennifer Rose, Ed Mead, Jerry Koch, Michael Kimble, Bill Harris, Jake Conroy, Marius Mason, Bill Dunne, Oscar López Rivera, and more.

Rattling the Cages brings the term ‘political prisoner’ into sharper focus by providing outstanding oral accounts from a wide range of North American political prisoners. In the finest tradition of oral history — ‘the poetry of the everyday,’ the literature of the streets — this book takes us to the source, and shines a bright, illuminating light into the shadowy world of our peculiarly American gulag. Rattling the Cages dives head-first into the wide world of direct personal experiences and human meaning-making, offering an important antidote to propaganda, dogma, and stereotype.”—Bill Ayers, author of Fugitive Days and Public Enemy

Additional information

Weight 23 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 1.5 in


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