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3.56 out of 53.56 out of 53.56 out of 53.56 out of 53.56 out of 5 3.56 (25 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Wilbert Rideau Narrator: Dominic Hoffman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9780307736727
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From Wilbert Rideau, the award-winning journalist who spent forty-four years in Louisiana prisons working against unimaginable odds to redeem himself, the story of a remarkable life: a crime, its punishment, and ultimate triumph.

After killing a woman in a moment of panic following a botched bank robbery, Rideau, denied a fair trial, was improperly sentenced to death at the age of nineteen. After more than a decade on death row, his sentence was amended to life imprisonment, and he joined the inmate population of the infamous Angola penitentiary. Soon Rideau became editor of the prison newsmagazine the Angolite, which under his leadership became an uncensored, daring, and crusading journal instrumental in reforming the violent prison and the corrupt Louisiana justice system.

With the same incisive feel for detail that brought Rideau great critical acclaim, here he brings to vivid life the world of the prison through the power of his pen. We see Angola’s unique culture, encompassing not only rivalries, sexual slavery, ingrained racism, and daily, soul-killing injustices but also acts of courage and decency by keeper and kept alike. As we relive Rideau’s remarkable rehabilitation—he lived a more productive life in prison than do most outside—we also witness his long struggle for justice.

In the Place of Justice goes far beyond the confines of a prison memoir, giving us a searing exposé of the failures of our legal system framed within the dramatic tale of a man who found meaning, purpose, and hope in prison. This is a deeply moving, eloquent, and inspirational story about perseverance, unexpected friendships and love, and the possibility that good can be forged under any circumstances.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Wilbert Rideau kept his cool for 44 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, put up with racial bias and severe injustices, won national awards editing the prison newsmagazine, and has written a book that moves without letup to an ending that’s alive with suspense. Elmore Leonard
  • A series of stunning journalistic revelations . . . Quite simply, no prison memoir in recent memory contains prose as deft or as riveting. David Friend, Vanity Fair
     
  • Candid . . . Poignant . . . Rideau is the rarest of American commodities—a man who exited a penitentiary in better shape than when he arrived. David Oshinsky, The New York Times Book Review
  • A richly detailed [and] all too rare look at life behind bars . . . Rideau’s account portrays a world that surprisingly mirrors our own, involving complicated power relations, functional and dysfunctional bureaucracies, and deep human ties of love and fealty . . . Books like Rideau’s provide a sympathetic glimpse into the world that most Americans have found it convenient to ignore. David Cole, The New York Review of Books
  • Incisive . . . Rideau commits a fair amount of real journalism in this memoir. That is, he names names—wardens, fellow prisoners, guards—and tells stories as straightforwardly as he can. His account of life in Angola is an important one . . . The ending of In the Place of Justice is as low-key, but as emotional, as any words I’ve read in a long time. Dwight Garner, The New York Times
  • Gripping . . . [Wilbert Rideau] was left to rot but instead built an extraordinary career. Robert Perkinson, The Nation
  • Riveting . . . Amazing . . . The picture of prison life painted by Rideau isn’t the one portrayed in many movies. There is violence and brutality, especially for the weak . . . But Rideau mostly shows that prison is a place where people are still living their lives . . . Amazingly, after the fear, the periods of isolation, and the hate he experienced, Rideau was able to lead a productive life and help others. Now he has provided a wonderful chance to share his remarkable life. Mary Foster, Associated Press
     
  • Intimate . . . Even if the memoir were devoid of such thematic relevance, Rideau’s sheer writing talent would propel In the Place of Justice to the status of a masterpiece in the realm of autobiographies. As it stands, the book already possesses the unique quality of being able to transform the inside perspective of a potentially demonized societal outsider into the objective opinion of an individual who simply refuses to ignore the value within. Lance Hicks, The Anniston Star (Alabama)
  • Searing, suspenseful, stomach-churning and soul-stirring, In the Place of Justice is a sobering indictment of the criminal justice and penal systems in Louisiana over the past half century—and testimony to the triumph of the human spirit. Glenn C. Altschuler, Tulsa World
     
  • Fascinating and inspiring . . . This book is a gift to all of us in so many ways. It will serve as a valuable primary source for scholars of the prison and court systems of this country. It will hopefully inform every voter and every politician or political politician who reads it. But first and foremost, it provides an enormously satisfying emotional and intellectual experience as Rideau weaves meaning into what would seem the most threadbare of situations. Patricia Black, BookPage
  • Uplifting . . . [Especially] his self-reclamation through tough, committed journalism in an unpropitious setting . . . Rideau’s story is a compelling reminder that rehabilitation should be the focus of a penal system. Publishers Weekly
     
  • Unlike most prison memoirs, Rideau does not dwell on the sensational nature of his crime and instead tells his tale factually in the mellow and precise tone of an intellectual. His superhuman patience and insistence on willing his freedom through legal means are inspirational. Readers of all kinds will appreciate his large heart and thoughtful insights into the machinations of the criminal-justice system in America.             Library Journal

  • “Perhaps no book written by an inmate has ever conveyed so much factual and emotional information about day-to-day prison life. Best Books of 2010, San Francisco Chronicle

  • If years in solitary confinement and on death row shaped and refined the young killer, Wilbert Rideau, it can surely be said that Rideau did as much for the prison that held him longest, the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. This is a breathtaking and, ultimately, triumphant story of rehabilitation through endurance and courageous journalism.  It is also a searing indictment of a broken, corrupt penal system that does far more damage than good to our society as a whole.  This is an extraordinary book.             Ted Koppel
  • To hold in your hand a book like this is a small miracle. That is not to say that Wilbert Rideau is a saint. But it is to assert that what he has accomplished is the kind of thing to make all of us take notice: Rideau, a ninth-grade dropout, is one of the standout journalists of his generation, and probably the best prison journalist ever, anywhere. Few who start so awfully make so much out of their lives. This book is a passage through that life, starting with his crime, but also it is a passage through the American prison system of the past half-century. Both are presented here in a way that is sober, startling, and—in the case of the Louisiana's justice system—enraging. Rideau's endurance and strength of spirit are an amazement, models for all humankind. I found his story to be utterly gripping and it will not be giving anything away to say that I have not read such a happy ending in a long, long time. Ted Conover
  • Engrossing, searing, and often heart-rending, this stunning narrative is ultimately about transcendence: how Wilbert Rideau overcame childhood misery, perversions of justice, and the darkness of imprisonment to become the rare man who could write such a book. The rewards of The Place of Justice involve much more than losing oneself in this wonderfully rendered life—it’s the way you feel once the last page is turned. Unforgettable. Richard North Patterson
  • “Incisive…As emotional, as any words I’ve read in a long time.”

    New York Times

  • “Perhaps no book written by an inmate has ever conveyed so much factual and emotional information about day-to-day prison life.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Riveting…Amazing…The picture of prison life painted by Rideau isn’t the one portrayed in many movies…Now he has provided a wonderful chance to share his remarkable life.”

    Associated Press

  • “Candid…Rideau is the rarest of American commodities—a man who exited a penitentiary in better shape than when he arrived.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A series of stunning journalistic revelations…Quite simply, no prison memoir in recent memory contains prose as deft or as riveting.”

    Vanity Fair

  •  “A richly detailed [and] all too rare look at life behind bars.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “Searing, suspenseful, stomach-churning and soul-stirring…A sobering indictment of the criminal justice and penal systems in Louisiana over the past half century—and testimony to the triumph of the human spirit.”

    Tulsa World

  • “A masterpiece in the realm of autobiographies.”

    Anniston Star

  • In the Place of Justice is remarkably even-handed and generous.”

    Palm Beach Arts Paper

  • In the Place of Justice is as much a look inside Angola prison and the judicial system as it is a fascinating yet unsettling journey inside the minds of those who do time there.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • “To a society that treats convicts as a worthless underclass, Rideau’s story is a compelling reminder that rehabilitation should be the focus of a penal system.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “This is more than a prison memoir; it is a searing indictment of the American justice system.”

    Booklist

  • “Fascinating and inspiring…This book is a gift to all of us in so many ways.”

    BookPage

  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leza | 2/16/2014

    " An excellent book about a man's struggle to gain freedom after paying for his crime. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Conor Bateman | 2/3/2014

    " An incredibly affecting portrait of the American penal system and a look at a crippling injustice that was allowed to perpetuate for four decades. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Krys | 1/20/2014

    " This is a interesting tale of a prisoner that was originally sentenced to die on death row in Angola prison in Louisiana in 1962. But due to the change in laws ends up spending life in prison instead. He is also talking about segregation times in prison as well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carissa | 1/19/2014

    " I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would because it was a book for school. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Sanderson | 1/18/2014

    " This one will hurt your brain. You want to feel bad for Wilbert's situation, it is undeniable that he was given unequal treatment by an all white judge and jury. But was he given unfair treatment? Should convicted murderers face only 12 years? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sushud82 Hudson | 1/14/2014

    " Loved reading this book. Thought-provoking and well-presented, but the play-by-play style dragged a bit for me in the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pixismiler | 12/20/2013

    " Excellent book. Rideau never claims his innocence as so many other inmates do, but he struggles throughout the whole book trying to figure out why he is treated differently and is not released in the same manner as the other inmates. I love reading about the old days at the prison. Must read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maria | 12/12/2013

    " An interesting look at life inside a prison and a man's fight for freedom. I found it sentimental at times, and a little self-aggrandizing, too. I think Rideau had a hard time ending it. But overall interesting and pretty good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Roberta | 9/3/2013

    " It takes perseverance and a friend to survive and he does. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Micky Lee | 7/23/2013

    " A good read and good story but likes to say how good he was all the time "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aberlowitz | 6/10/2013

    " I really learned something about injustice and prison life from this one "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shayne | 6/7/2012

    " A story about forgiveness. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elyssa | 2/12/2012

    " Excellent memoir by a man who was imprisoned in Angola for 44 years. He provides an insider's view of the criminal justice system from 1961-2005 that is unique and worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patsye | 11/24/2011

    " This is an excellent book and gives an amazing view of the criminal justice system and its inequalities. Whatever is your initial reaction to a book by a convicted killer, you should give it a read. It is also a chronicle of keeping an unbroken spirit. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Barry Podob | 5/13/2011

    " I'm not a fan of non-fiction, especially the story of a man who commits a robbery then murder and shows no remorse. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janie | 4/1/2011

    " This was a good read but I got bored reading the same ole' same ole' page after page. I also felt the writer was a bit over the top consistently taking about "me" to the point of losing sight of the fact he was in prison for a reason. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zach | 3/15/2011

    " Excellent.
    The book combines elements of a legal thriller to a story of personal redemption to a journalistic account of life inside prison. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Micky | 2/17/2011

    " A good read and good story but likes to say how good he was all the time "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sushud82 | 1/18/2011

    " Loved reading this book. Thought-provoking and well-presented, but the play-by-play style dragged a bit for me in the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leza | 1/10/2011

    " An excellent book about a man's struggle to gain freedom after paying for his crime. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 12/16/2010

    " This one will hurt your brain. You want to feel bad for Wilbert's situation, it is undeniable that he was given unequal treatment by an all white judge and jury. But was he given unfair treatment? Should convicted murderers face only 12 years? "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Barry | 9/25/2010

    " I'm not a fan of non-fiction, especially the story of a man who commits a robbery then murder and shows no remorse. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aberlowitz | 8/20/2010

    " I really learned something about injustice and prison life from this one "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Krys | 6/21/2010

    " This is a interesting tale of a prisoner that was originally sentenced to die on death row in Angola prison in Louisiana in 1962. But due to the change in laws ends up spending life in prison instead. He is also talking about segregation times in prison as well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patsye | 6/7/2010

    " This is an excellent book and gives an amazing view of the criminal justice system and its inequalities. Whatever is your initial reaction to a book by a convicted killer, you should give it a read. It is also a chronicle of keeping an unbroken spirit. "

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About the Author
Wilbert Rideau was editor of The Angolite, a prison newsmagazine that during his tenure was nominated seven times for a National Magazine Award. While in prison, he was a correspondent for NPR’s Fresh Air; coproduced and narrated a radio documentary, “Tossing Away the Keys,” for NPR’s All Things Considered; collaborated on “In for Life” for ABC-TV’s Day One; and codirected the Academy Award–nominated film The Farm: Angola, USA. He is the recipient of a George Polk Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, among others. He was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship in 2007 and works as a consultant with the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project. He lives in Louisiana.
About the Narrator

Dominic Hoffman is a Los Angeles–based actor of stage, screen, and television. He has appeared in such television shows as The ShieldNYPD Blue, and The Jamie Foxx Show. He attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art as well as the American Conservatory Theater.