An engaging history of Trenton State Prison by a man who spent his career there.
Harry Camisa spent 50 years inside one of New Jersey's toughest maximum-security facilities. Beginning as a corrections officer in 1950, he retired in 1979, then returned to the prison as a civilian employee, remaining on staff until 2002. During that time, he witnessed 13 executions, befriended numerous murderers, rapists and thieves, and watched the changes in society as a whole–and specifically its philosophy about corrections–reverberate within the walls of the prison. He relates his observations and experiences in compelling detail, offering a close look at the structure of the prison itself and its evolution over time, as well as first-hand impressions of several notorious inmates: Rubin "Hurricane" Carter; Dutch Schultz's assassin, Charlie "the Bug" Workman; serial killer Rich Biegenwald; Jesse Timmendequas, whose rape and murder resulted in the passage of "Megan's Law"; and accountant/killer John List, a fugitive for 17 years who was finally captured after being featured on America's Most Wanted. In each case, Camisa presents his perspective based on his own interactions with the prisoners, as well as extensive descriptions of their crimes, captures, trials and, in certain cases, escape attempts. Though co-authored by Camisa and Franklin, the voice throughout is entirely Camisa's, and the research on the included cases blends naturally with his personal reflections. Aside from his remarkably humane, non-judgmental acceptance of some of society's worst, he offers his deepest introspection when describing the electrocutions he witnessed–the powerful feelings evoked by watching a man die, and his continued ambivalence about capital punishment.
A rewarding testament to a life's work, and a treasure trove for true-crime buffs. (35 b&w photos throughout, 1 b&w illustration)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)