Neither a Papillon nor a George Jackson, Shoblad did have the distinction of being called ""the most immoral man ever to come before my bench"" by the Oregon judge who sentenced him to a life term in the pen. He himself tells you (not without a glimmer of pride) that he was a real villain -- ""corrupt and violent inside, suave and indifferent outside and utterly devoid of principle."" A long career as burglar, con man, and armed robber lay behind him including his days as leader of the ""Silk Stocking Bandits."" Among his other accomplishments there is a brief marriage to a crippled heiress loaded with murderous fantasies of killing her for the money, various knocked-up girls, and an army stint ending in dishonorable discharge. But in this particular hard-hick success story the pen is only a prelude to new dawn a-breaking. With the help of the chaplain who gives him faith and love and a lot of correspondence courses which give him education, he becomes a very upward-mobile con indeed. Soon Sargent Shriver (to whom the book is dedicated) and the O.E.O. launch an experimental work and school-release program in Oregon and Shoblad is at the university making A's in sociology and screwing pretty coeds. After that -- parole, a fat graduate fellowship, marriage, a book for Doubleday . . . . To be sure he almost blows it all but the parole board is compassionate and the rehabilitated Shoblad testifies that he is now a new man, proud to be ""almost a Square John."" Since Shoblad spent most of his time in prison making it, he has little to say about prison society apart from perfunctory references to ""the whole barbarous system."" (When a major riot breaks out he decides he has nothing in common with a bunch of ""riot-happy cons."") His bad guy days are pretty bad but they are also glamorized and his about-face as a penitent convert fails to exhilarate. Marginal, not inspirational.