Download American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment Audiobook

American Prison: A Reporters Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment Audiobook, by Shane Bauer Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Shane Bauer Narrator: James Fouhey, Shane Bauer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2018 ISBN: 9780525528784
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New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2018

A New York Times Notable Book 

A ground-breaking and brave inside reckoning with the nexus of prison and profit in America: in one Louisiana prison and over the course of our country's history.


In 2014, Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. An award-winning investigative journalist, he used his real name; there was no meaningful background check. Four months later, his employment came to an abrupt end. But he had seen enough, and in short order he wrote an exposé about his experiences that won a National Magazine Award and became the most-read feature in the history of the magazine Mother Jones. Still, there was much more that he needed to say. In American Prison, Bauer weaves a much deeper reckoning with his experiences together with a thoroughly researched history of for-profit prisons in America from their origins in the decades before the Civil War. For, as he soon realized, we can't understand the cruelty of our current system and its place in the larger story of mass incarceration without understanding where it came from. Private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery, and the echoes of these shameful origins are with us still.

The private prison system is deliberately unaccountable to public scrutiny. Private prisons are not incentivized to tend to the health of their inmates, or to feed them well, or to attract and retain a highly-trained prison staff. Though Bauer befriends some of his colleagues and sympathizes with their plight, the chronic dysfunction of their lives only adds to the prison's sense of chaos. To his horror, Bauer finds himself becoming crueler and more aggressive the longer he works in the prison, and he is far from alone.

A blistering indictment of the private prison system, and the powerful forces that drive it, American Prison is a necessary human document about the true face of justice in America. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Bauer’s riveting, undercover, firsthand account…draws a direct line between American slavery, the founders of the prison corporations, and the job he is hired to do…at a high human cost.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • "[This] alarming, riveting exposé portrays a multibillion-dollar industry plagued by violence, corruption, deprivation, and incompetence.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “One of the most incisive—and damning—investigations into prison culture and business in recent memory.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Takes a crowbar to the private prison industry and yanks hard, letting just enough daylight slip inside to illuminate the contours of the beast.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “A potent, necessary broadside against incarceration in the US.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Deprivation, abuse, and fear oppress inmates and guards alike in this hard-hitting exposé of the for-profit prison industry…A gripping indictment of a bad business.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection
  • A Literary Hub Pick of the Ultimate Fall Books
  • Finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize
  • A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
  • A New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie | 1/16/2019

    " I bought this book because it was on President Obama's favorite book list, and because I have a fascination with the Criminal Justice System / True Crime Genre. I found this book to be boring and didn't like the way it jumped back in forth from the prison system to history of racism and torture in the South. The premise is that the author takes a job as a correctional officer with the idea that he will take a hidden camera and a recorder into the facility to report on the for-profit prison industry. Coming from a corrections background, I had an interest in the expose. I was only able to listen about half-way through. Between the poor narration and the back and forth of the book, I couldn't finish it. "

About the Author

Shane Bauer is a senior reporter for Mother Jones and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Best Reporting. His writing has appeared in the Nation, Salon, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Christian Science Monitor. He has received the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism, the John Jay Award for Criminal Justice Reporting, and the Media for a Just Society Award. He is the co-author of a memoir, A Sliver of Light, which details his time spent as a prisoner in Iran.

About the Narrator

James Fouhey is an actor and narrator living in New York City. He received classical training at Boston University and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. He has recorded more than forty audiobooks across a variety of genres, including science fiction, romance, young adult fiction, and children’s fiction.