Finalist, National Book Awards 2019 for Nonfiction

ISBN 9780802129086
Grove Press / Grove Atlantic
Albert Woodfox

Albert Woodfox was born in 1947 in New Orleans. A committed activist in prison, he remains so today, speaking to a wide array of audiences, including the Innocence Project, Harvard, Yale, and other universities, the National Lawyers Guild, as well as at Amnesty International events in London, Paris, Denmark, Sweden, and Belgium. More about this author >

Leslie George

Leslie George is a long-time journalist and award-winning radio producer. In her years working for WBAI Pacifica Radio in New York City, she was a reporter for "The Evening News," a producer for the morning news program “Wake Up Call” with Amy Goodman and Bernard White, and the writer and host of the Sunday news program "Week in Review." More about this author >

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From the publisher:

Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana, all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.

Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in his early twenties to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitment and code of living, Albert was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitary confinement by the warden. Without a shred of actual evidence against them, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteen more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016.

Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him in solitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers, Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as they became known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity and corruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. He survived to give us Solitary, a chronicle of rare power and humanity that proves the better spirits of our nature can thrive against any odds.

Judges Citation

Albert Woodfox endured more than four decades in solitary confinement in Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. Solitary tells the story of how, while innocent of the charge for which he was incarcerated, he maintained his faith in humanity, working for the rights of his fellow prisoners. Woodfox, alongside Leslie George, tells his story in language both eloquent and powerful, a testament to the courage and tremendous resilience a person is capable of, writing with candor, detailing how he survived and thrived in the face of brutality.