Brother One Cell

  • by Cullen Thomas
  • Narrated by Dan Woren
  • 11 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

At age 23, Cullen Thomas was, like most middle-class kids his age, looking for something meaningful and exciting to do before settling into the 9-to-5 routine. Possessed of a youthful, romantic view of the world, he set off for adventure in Asia and a job teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. But he got more than he ever bargained for when an ill-advised stunt led to a drug-smuggling arrest and a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence. Brother One Cell is Cullen's memoir of that time - the harrowing and unusual story of a good kid forced to grow up in very unusual circumstances. One of only a handful of foreign inmates, Cullen shared a cell block with human-traffickers, jewel smugglers, murderers, and thieves. Fortunately for him, the strict Confucian social mores that dominated the prison made it almost a safe place, different from the brutal, lawless setting most would imagine. In the relative calm of this environment, Cullen would learn invaluable life lessons and come out of the experience a wise and grounded adult.
With its gritty descriptions of life behind the concrete walls, colorful depictions of his fellow inmates, and acute insights about Korean society, Brother One Cell is part gritty prison story, part cautionary tale, and part insightful travelogue into the places most people never see.


What the Critics Say

"Reflective, often highlighter-worthy prose....Thomas...lyrically describes his Zenlike effort to stay sane through shoe-factory work and prison basketball." (Outside)
"It's an offbeat coming-of-age story, the tale of a wide-eyed, innocent, middle-class American thrust into a world of deprivation and daily trials that speed his passage into adulthood and a deeper understanding of himself and the fallen creatures around him. Told simply, and with extraordinary good humor, it reads like a cross between "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." (The New York Times)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

this book could not be better

excellent, well written, well narrated autobiography/diary
mature and original introspection
as well as clear and deep views of other cultures and people
a crisp style which is also compassionate
a remarkable work and a very good audio book
This book could not be better.
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- Kathleen


I've become somewhat hooked to listening to audio books. I work most days with my hands all day and night long leaving me very little time for anything else besides a good night sleep. As much as I certainly do enjoy silence, music, and the news these audio books have definately filled a void. Whether its listening to some Beckett or attempting to learn a new language through Pimsleur.

I found Cullen's story Brother One Cell fantastic. It will certainly share a space on my harddrive with such recent downloads as Absurdistan, Middlesex, and The Coming China Wars. I think narrator Dan Woren is superb. And listening to another American's observations based on his unique experience in Korea is a relevent and insightful treat.
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- John

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-15-2007
  • Publisher: Books on Tape