In the late '30's and '40's Rene Belbenoit wrote about the Dry Guillotine (an alternate name for this French penal colony) with a later screen showing. Since then the site has been turned into a missile station and Rickard's account, based on the diary of one Etienne Artaud, goes back forty years. Artaud killed his mistress and her lover, was sentenced for ten years, later extended pretty much for his lifespan after escape attempts, etc. The horror of the camp rises rather flatly off the page--the ""bear pits"" or cage for those condemned to solitary confinement; the discused and disfigured (lepers, syphilitics, etc.) in this habitat where death statistically balanced out the new arrivals. At the close, a few (the author escaped finally to parole in France) emerged to do either good or well which is doubtful of the book. It's of such vestigial interest.