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Captives by Jarrod Shanahan
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Captives by Jarrod Shanahan
Hardcover $29.95
May 17, 2022 | ISBN 9781788739955

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“Rikers Island has the same relationship to New York as his picture did to Dorian Gray in the famous story by Oscar Wilde: the notorious super-jail is the grotesque face of the institutional cruelty and racism that lies behind so much of the Big Apple’s preening dazzle. Shanahan, who personally experienced Rikers’ violence, has crafted a masterpiece of synthesized social observation, analytic history and political critique. Now that the city has a new mayor who loudly champions the jailers and bad cops, Captives is urgent and obligatory reading.”
—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Planet of Slums

“Shanahan’s lively must-read explains the power politics shaping New York City’s municipal lockup frenzy.”
—Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Abolition Geography and Golden Gulag

Captives reveals the long history of racial oppression and unaccountable violence in the Rikers Island jail complex that has been hidden in plain sight … This extraordinary book demonstrates the centrality of jails to life in New York City.”
—Matthew Lassiter, author of The Silent Majority

Captives is more than a history of the notorious Rikers Island; it is a riveting, caged bird’s-eye view of the tumultuous shift from postwar liberal dreams of penal reform to neoliberal punishment, police power, and the rise of the carceral state. Ultimately, it is a book about class struggle—how we got from ‘build better’ to ‘lock ’em up’ to ‘shut it down.’”
—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

Captives is an important and timely book that vividly depicts how decades of class struggle and oppression, especially along the lines of race and gender, shaped the rise of Rikers Island as we know it today. A must read!”
—Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch

Captives is an amazingly detailed journey into a New York City jails system fueled by capitalist greed, political expediency, and racist exploitation. Conditions have deteriorated on Rikers Island even compared to the oppressive and inhumane environment that I experienced detained as a 16-year-old member of the New York Panther 21. Jarrod Shanahan’s incisive history challenges us to thought and action. The longer Rikers stays open and the push for new carceral facilities continues, the longer our collective humanity remains caged.”
—Jamal Joseph, author of Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention

Captives is a long, hard look at the role of human cages within New York City politics and the reform efforts that birthed Rikers. His account reads like a page out of L.A. Confidential rewritten with corrupt guards in place of cops, from an unaccounted $2 million discovered posthumously in the safe of the guards’ union president to rebel prisoners at the Manhattan Tombs hanging burning sheets out of windows.”
—Abby Cunniff, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Shanahan makes it possible to answer the immediate and pressing question-why did an agenda of jail reform fail so drastically, producing in the process one of the most notorious penal colonies in the United States?”
—Kay Gabriel, Nation

“A scrupulously researched history showing nearly a century of dysfunction of one of the world’s largest correctional institutions. And the inescapable conclusion that, whatever the justice is in shipping people to Rikers, there is little justice once they arrive.”
—Jacqueline Cutler, New York Daily News

“A vivid, vital, and terrifying volume.”
—Scott Stern, Jacobin

Captives is a vivid, disturbing, and timely chronicle of New York’s long crisis.”
—David Helps, Metropole

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