• Blood in the Water

  • The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
  • By: Heather Ann Thompson
  • Narrated by: Erin Bennett
  • Length: 22 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 06-20-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.6 (189 ratings)

Regular price: $34.94

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in History
Winner of the 2017 Bancroft Prize
National Book Award finalist
Los Angeles Times book prize finalist
New York Times notable book for 2016
Named a best book of the year by the Boston Globe, Newsweek, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly
The first definitive history of the infamous 1971 Attica prison uprising, the state's violent response, and the victims' decades-long quest for justice.
On September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions during the four long days and nights that followed. On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed 39 men - hostages as well as prisoners - and severely wounded more than 100 others. In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners. And, ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath, and neglecting to provide support to the survivors and the families of the men who had been killed. Drawing from more than a decade of extensive research, historian Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on every aspect of the uprising and its legacy, giving voice to all those who took part in this 45-year fight for justice: prisoners, former hostages, families of the victims, lawyers and judges, and state officials and members of law enforcement. Blood in the Water is the searing and indelible account of one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century.
©2016 Heather Ann Thompson (P)2017 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By David on 10-27-17

Tragic Events, Well-Told

This disturbing book about the Attica Prison uprising is well-reported and well-read. The facts are well-known, but the book was nevertheless suspenseful.

Heather Ann Thompson’s focus on the individuals involved—prisoners, correction officers, state officials and attorneys—shows both their humanity and their frequent errors and misjudgments. Most upsetting was the cruelty and violence inflicted by the guards and state police. The reporting makes clear that the murders at Attica were avoidable and unnecessary. They appeared to arise from a combination of fear, anger, exhaustion and deep racism by those retaking the prison. The resulting cover-up, which reached as high as the governor’s office, was dismaying.

Thompson sometimes showed off her own sympathies too strongly, portraying several of the prisoners as oppressed saints. Oppressed at Attica, yes, but saints? Many (not all) were there for appalling crimes. At the same time, she showed sympathy for many of the overworked guards and their families, especially those guards who found themselves hostages. Not surprisingly, she showed no sympathy for Governor Rockefeller or the officials who fought to conceal the truth and failed to hold accountable those who killed and tortured the prisoners. She presents substantial evidence that the cover-up is still continuing at the state level.

Erin Bennett’s narration was perfect, just the right tone of urgency and controlled outrage throughout the book.

One quibble from a Buffalo native: Thompson repeatedly refers to the Attica/Buffalo/Rochester area as “Upstate New York.” The area is Western New York, not Upstate, as anyone living there will tell you. It’s a long way from New York City.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Michael Friedman on 08-09-17

A Wonderful HIstory of a True American Tragedy

So much of the meaning of Attica is misunderstood because of the decades of cover-up and lies by the Powers that Be in the State Police and the Governors' office. Professor Thompson was lucky enough to have reviewed materials that were hidden by the State of New York until 2006 and even then it disappeared within a few weeks and is still unavailable to the public. Therefore her well written reconstruction of the causes of the riot, the reaction, the murder and criminal negligence by the State Police and others and then the incredible lying and cover-up of the events by the Executive Office of the State of New York are important. One of the true villains of the matter was George Infante who was elected several times in my hometown of Albany County as Sheriff and then for 17 years as a County Legislator. HIs obituary told nothing of his part in the killing and torture and cover-up at Attica. Thankfully, Professor Thompson has been able to review from multiple sources and interviews the facts leading up to the horrible, unnecessary killings by the State Police and the aftermath and context of the treatment of prisoners in New York and elsewhere. I highly recommend this book.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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