Newjack – Ted Conover : Guarding Sing Sing is the story of Conover’s rookie year as a guard at Sing Sing. It is a nerve-jangling account of his passage into the storied prison and the culture of its guards – both fresh-faced “newjacks” like Conover and brutally hardened veterans. As he struggles to be a good officer, Conover angers inmates, dodges blows, works to balance decency with toughness, and participates in prison rituals – strip frisks, cell searches, cell “extractions” – that exact a toll on inmates and officers alike.
The tale begins with the corrections academy and ends with the flames and smoke of New Year’s Eve on Conover’s floor of the notorious B-Block. Along the way, Conover also recounts the history of Sing Sing, from draconian early punishment, to fame as the citadel of capital punishment, to its present status as New York State’s “bottom of the barrel” prison.
This book will become a landmark of American journalism – the definitive presentation of the impasse between the need to imprison criminals and the dehumanization of inmates and guards – that almost inevitably takes place behind bars.
“Newjack is an astonishing work by a gifted – and dedicated – journalist. Ted Conover takes us into the dangerous, sad, amusing and instructive soul of one of America’s best known prisons.” — Tom Brokaw
For the first time, I am not able to write down what I think myself about this book for it has been said in many ways by great journalists and in a much better way than what I would have been able to write. Below is what they had to say abizut this brilliant book:
“Compelling…. Fascinating…. ‘Newjack’ is an important cautionary tale…. Conover is to be commended for having the chops to venture where few others would dare to go.” The Los Angeles Times
“Profoundly eye-opening….He brilliantly demonstrates how life in prison brutalizes both the kept and their keepers.” Chicago Sun Times
“This book takes a reader inside one of the many locked doors of America’s penal system. It is clear-eyed and sympathetic, intelligent and engrossing. It reminded me of some of George Orwell’s admirable journalism.” Tracy Kidder
“Those who craft theories and make policy must read this book if they are to understand how those theories and policies affect people …” San Diego Union Tribune
“A devastating chronicle of the toll prison life takes on the prisoners and the keepers of the keys. You can’t get more inside than this … Conover brilliantly conveys the confusion and frustration of trying to use the lessons of the Academy [for training guards] in a real-time situation.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
Listen to the sound sample of this great book here: Newjack – Ted Conover- Audio Book