The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict The earliest known prison memoir by an African American writer recently discovered and authenticated by a team of Yale scholars sheds light on the longstanding connection between race and incarceratio

  • Title: The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict
  • Author: AustinReed Caleb Smith David W. Blight Robert B. Stepto
  • ISBN: 9780812997095
  • Page: 500
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The earliest known prison memoir by an African American writer recently discovered and authenticated by a team of Yale scholars sheds light on the longstanding connection between race and incarceration in America In 2009, scholars at Yale University came across a startling manuscript the memoir of Austin Reed, a free black man born in the 1820s who spent most of his earlThe earliest known prison memoir by an African American writer recently discovered and authenticated by a team of Yale scholars sheds light on the longstanding connection between race and incarceration in America In 2009, scholars at Yale University came across a startling manuscript the memoir of Austin Reed, a free black man born in the 1820s who spent most of his early life ricocheting between forced labor in prison and forced labor as an indentured servant Lost for than one hundred and fifty years, the handwritten document is the first known prison memoir written by an African American Corroborated by prison records and other documentary sources, Reed s text gives a gripping first person account of an antebellum Northern life lived outside slavery that nonetheless bore, in its day to day details, unsettling resemblances to that very institution Now, for the first time, we can hear Austin Reed s story as he meant to tell it He was born to a middle class black family in the boomtown of Rochester, New York, but when his father died, his mother struggled to make ends meet Still a child, Reed was placed as an indentured servant to a nearby family of white farmers near Rochester He was caught attempting to set fire to a building and sentenced to ten years at Manhattan s brutal House of Refuge, an early juvenile reformatory that would soon become known for beatings and forced labor Seven years later, Reed found himself at New York s infamous Auburn State Prison It was there that he finished writing this memoir, which explores America s first reformatory and first industrial prison from an inmate s point of view, recalling the great cruelties and kindnesses he experienced in those places and excavating patterns of racial segregation, exploitation, and bondage that extended beyond the boundaries of the slaveholding South, into free New York Accompanied by fascinating historical documents including a series of poignant letters written by Reed near the end of his life , The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict is a work of uncommon beauty that tells a story of nineteenth century racism, violence, labor, and captivity in a proud, defiant voice Reed s memoir illuminates his own life and times as well as ours today.

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      Published :2018-09-01T16:01:28+00:00

    One thought on “The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict”

    1. There can be no doubt that this remarkable document uncovered and authenticated recently by a team led by Caleb Smith at Yale University is something altogether new in the annals of prison literature. A young free black inmate of New York’s prison system, ten years old at first incarceration in 1833, shares his history in rich detail and with great storytelling skill. If at first I thought this might be a story of the wrongly accused—the boy was only ten years old!—I was soon disabused of [...]

    2. I heard about this book in an article in Smithsonian magazine last month. I immediately put a hold on it at the library because I have a weird fascination with prison memoirs. It's true. The only thing I can think is frequent viewings of Shawshank Redemption and Bandits has caused this preoccupation in prison memoirs and stories.Austin Reed was a free black man born in the 1820s. When he was still fairly young, after his father died, he was sent away to another family to be an indentured servant [...]

    3. *I won this book in a Giveaway.*Austin Reed's The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict is a well written prison memoir. It was written around 1858 however it was discovered about 8 years ago in an estate sale. Researchers verified Reed's story and found that he was a prisoner in the 1800's in New York, making this the earliest known African-American prison memoir.Reed tells his life and adventures as if it were a novel. Many have compared it to Charles Dickens writing. I found the bibli [...]

    4. I was interested in the historical value of this book. Excited to be able to read the words of an African American who lived in the 1830s. Fascinated by his outlook on life. This is the recently discovered memoir of Austin Reed and his life and incarceration in the 19th century. I was surprised to find that the reform school Reed was sent to as a child was integrated. The House of Refuge was for poor kids. Half were Irish, but the races were treated differently and in later years actually segreg [...]

    5. From Melody:"I can’t stop talking about this memoir of African American life and prison life in the 19th Century. The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed is “the first known prison narrative by an African American writer,” editor Caleb Smith wrote in the Yale Alumni magazine. The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library purchased the manuscript, and Random House published it as a book this winter.This book is a remarkable find. Perfect for history buffs, rare man [...]

    6. Austin Reed's manuscript surfaced, at an estate sale, at this most relevant time in history when the unjust incarcerations of blacks and young people is on the frontlines of the media. This is an amazing piece of history that has finally found it's way out into the world to be heard. Austin Reed writes well for someone who had little education and that which he did receive was learned at the reformatory. He was first imprisoned at the age of 10!! Reed demonstrates how the deck was stacked agains [...]

    7. I liked it very much but was put in an odd or perhaps bad mood after reading the very long intro which was really a very scholarly analysis of the writing. Do yourself a favor and read the long drawn out introduced after you've read the story by Austin Reed. That 'intro' should be placed at the back of the book. Just an opinion. It's how it effected me.

    8. In compliance with FTC guidelines, I have won this book through the Giveaways.My Rating System:* couldn't finish, ** wouldn't recommend, *** would recommend, **** would read again, ***** have read again.

    9. A really interesting look into early prison practices in America. The manuscript of this book was finished in Auburn prison around 1858 and provides a perspective into the life of a convict of that time. This is the experience of a set of people that most have forgotten about. The book can also be immensely frustrating at times, because this is a very honest and introspective look at a man's life from age 6 onward, and as all humans do, sometimes he makes irrational or poor decisions. Regardless [...]

    10. READ THIS BOOK! The earliest known prison memoir written by an African American man, this account is an important work that deserves widespread readership. Austin Reed, the memoirist, spent most of his life in prison. He was born a free man in Rochester around 1823, only to become an indentured servant by age six. It is a crime of revenge that lands him in the prison, where he endures harsh treatment and torture, including "the showering bath," an early form of water boarding.It is an important [...]

    11. This was an interesting read for anyone curious about the prison system. This is an autobiographical account of a man who spent his entire life in and out of the Auburn State prison system since the age of 6 starting in 1833. The manuscript was discovered quite by accident and through dedicated research by the editor Caleb Smith and numerous other people, it was authenticated and printed. If anything, this document really shows how violence only begets violence and begs so many questions: how be [...]

    12. I read this right after Guantanamo Diary so I am observing a bit of a theme here (and I'm getting a little desensitized to torture; good in a way, bad in another way). It's hard to believe but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I came to like Austin (aka Rob) Reed. His life was so sad; he had so many opportunities to turn it around and he could just never make it happen. I absolutely adored the way he wrote. It was so repetitive at times but that was a comfort. ("a harden convict of a gloomy prison [...]

    13. I won a copy of this in a giveaway and was very excited to be able to give it to my boyfriend based on his areas of interest. In the process I decided to read it myself and have to agree with several of the other reviewers when they say the intro actually took away from the story. I'm not one for too many straightforward facts and figures. I appreciate historical fiction where I'm learning but as a natural part of the story, not so much a "textbook" feel. I had the same issue with the book STIF [...]

    14. I really enjoyed this whole package -it needs both parts: text and exegesis. The discovered manuscript of a juvenile delinquents incarceration memoir is bookended with explanation of the life and times of the author, the prison system for young offenders, and the light emendations to enhance clarity and readability. Reed is haunted by, it seems, his crimes and the thought of masturbation as he cycles in and out of a workhouse/indentured servitude system featuring medieval tortures. No wonder we [...]

    15. This book was an eye-opening account of how prison life affected this individual, particularly in the state of New York, which is located in the North and objected to slave ownership, despite slaves being prevalent in the South. The different ways this man was treated based on his race and status as a prisoner in a free state is a fascinating tale to read and made me want to continue reading to find out what was going to happen next. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in criminal j [...]

    16. Won this book on . Was so excited to receive and start reading and wasn't disappointed. I kept thinking what a great find this manuscript must've been. It was interesting to watch the writers style change. I especially liked the commentary and all the info about researching, finishing and validating Mr Reeds account of his life. What a treasure this man left behind.

    17. I received this book as a giveaway from Good reads.I thought that this book was interesting. I don't read a lot of biographies but I thought that it was a good pov. I really felt bad for the kid. he just couldn't seem to catch a break. this book definitely made me think about things and gave me a different perspective.

    18. I probably would've loved this if I had read it at another time. I felt so inundated by the scholars' introductions that Reed's actual text was anticlimactic. Pun intended. His disdain for self-pleasuring was amusing

    19. I liked this book because of the historical significance, but reading the author's notes first really bogged me down. The indexes are sufficient to explain away any questions.

    20. I was so blown away by the self-hatred in this book that being "lash upon my back with the cats," didn't faze me a bit.Interesting read. good luck

    21. This was an interesting historical novel, set in the 1820's. It reminds us of just how unfairly & cruel we treated black prisoner's. It is an interesting memoir of prisoner Austin Reed.

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