National Book Critics Circle, Nonfiction, 2001
Newjack: 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.
©2001 Ted Conover; (P)2005 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"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)
Teacher - Autistic Children
I have always been interested in what really takes place in a prison. Sing Sing is one of the most famous places in the world. Ted Conover did a great job, and should be applauded for his research, fine writing and his outstanding voice reading his own work.
Thank you Ted! Personally I don't know how you survived the time you spent at Sing Sing as a guard. I would have been jumping out of my skin doing your job. The best part of this book, for me, was the Psycho or Bug ward and the Block. Your descriptions could not have been more accurate. Thanks again for painting a visual picture for me.
I think "Newjack (Unabridged) read by the author, not only explains the stress a guard has to endure, but also the emotional impact of the prisoners as well. This is a must read for anyone that has never been to prison and others that may think that crime pays.
I want to introduce this book to my High School Students to read. I think it will shock young adults to take a positive approach to his or her life. That is how real this book was to me!
As a footnote: I teach at risk High School Students.
A very easy read and seemingly accurate account of prison life at the infamous Sing Sing state prison outside of New York. The interesting twist here is that we get the story from the perspective of a newly minted C.O. -- a "Newjack." The narration was above-average, although some of the character voices were a tad on the funny side. In any event, I highly recommend this book and consider it a credit well spent.
great book..good insight into prison life from a guards perspectice....i think he downplays the seemier and violent part of prison life....but all in all a great read....buy it you won't be dissappointed
Say something about yourself!
Newjack was an eye opener to many things I didn't know about the prison system. It highlighted many of the stresses of being a guard but also had retained some sense of empathy towards the prisoners.
Clinical Psychologist in private practice.
In the top 5
When he walked into the prison for the first time on duty down the long corridor and he realized what he'd gotten himself into...yet pressed on to do his job
Conover himself...although his descriptions of fellow academy cadets, supervisors, and inmates were so colorful I could see them.
Walk a mile in another person's shoes and you'll understand their world better
I'm a psychologist but I was also a police officer. This book was solid in reality and it made me feel like I was back on duty as a patrol officer. I was really impressed that an academic had gone to this length to go undercover for the sake of qualitative research. I can't say how much I respect him for what he did because in that job there is nothing but danger and it sets upon you fast, before you realize it at times. Conover puts himself in another realm from dry academics who sit behind computers only spouting theories and pontificating about the real world....he experienced it first hand !
Having been a police officer I can tell you...everyone should know what it is like to have to be on the front line in the middle of the night pulling over a car full of suspicious guys on a dark highway by yourself with backup coming from a mile away. Once you've experienced that, you have a different point of view. In Conover's case, he was a corrections officer, and I totally respect those men and women because they don't have weapons while out numbered in tanks full of people that the average person doesn't even know exists.
Great book full of insights on life and it never preaches politics.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“Newjack” is a tepid indictment of prisons. It is about doing time, both as a prisoner and as a guard. Clanging prison doors and simmering discontent are evident in Ted Conover’s book but it is not a polemic for prison reform.
Conover surreptitiously becomes a Corrections Officer at a storied New York prison called Sing Sing (30 miles north of NYC). He enters a seven week boot camp and four-week “On Job Training” program to become a C.O. (Corrections Officer) for one year, including his 11 week training period.
Prisoners are being taught to believe that helping one’s fellow man is not a societal benefit. Prisons do not reform prisoners; i.e. prisons warehouse human beings and return most of them to society after time served. This is a sad commentary about an American prison system that incarcerate 716 human beings for every 100,000 residents, the highest per capita incarceration in the world.
British ex-pat living in NC. Have more personalities than Sybil which is reflected in my choice of books! Frustrated writer at heart.
Ted Conover went to the next level in order to research for this book. He decided not to read up on the subject or interview extensively all about the prison system but to sacrifice a year of his life and actually become an employee of the State and become a Prison Guard.
Armed with the statutory government training for the post and a degree in Journalism Tom informs us in great detail about his year as a person officer. He explains clearly how he had to learn the art of separating the personal from the professional life. It caused him quite a few problems however he succeeded and that is more than evident in this volume.
I thoroughly enjoyed this from the first sentence ad it was so readable. Ted explains his situation in such a way that you feel you are in Sing Sing prison. I do not recommend this book to be read if you are in a place in your life of sadness or depression as it could lower your mood.
Many writers will try to interject humor into this type of story, Ted does not. There is very little humor and I feel that that is the truth in Sing Sing. It is a very old establishment, overcrowded and understaffed.
I had no idea that prison offices not only have to deal with the strife at work dealing with the Convicts but they also have to deal with obnoxious Guards who had large egos and small paychecks but also had to be very aware of their position in the community. Ted gives an example of being uncomfortable wearing his uniform on his way home off shift because there were a lot of Paroled Convicts who still had an "axe to grind" with the System.
This type of book is not for everybody but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a judgment call but if this is your "cup of tea" I really feel that you will get a lot out of it.
Ted Conover, you have done an excellent job.
This was my first audio book ever and it was so good that I'm having a hard time trying to find something that grabbed and held my attention like New Jack did.
Just the fact that Ted Conover was willing to undergo the grueling training, hard work and over time, not to mention the treatment he endured from both inmates and staff ALL in the name of journalism. Just so that he could actually report the FACTS of Americas prison system, or lack thereof, amazed me.
This was his story to tell. He lived it and his experience really shines through by having him tell it himself.
"Cooped up with time to kill doing time"
There are a lot of words I could use to describe this book. Intriguing, introspective, interesting and even enlightening. It's a study on not just the prison system but the officers working in it. It's a really good book especially for those that like books that explore human nature in various situations. I really liked it actually and i think a lot of others will too. However it's not a book for those who might consider themselves to be bleeding-hearted do-gooders as for them it might be shocking and some passages they might not want to believe but for most I'd say it's worth reading.
"Not bad but not what I expected either."
I got this book thinking it would be more of a daily life and troubles inside the prison but to be fair it is not really anything like it, He goes over the history of the place and a little detail about being a correction officer, Some prison characters would of been nice.
It is not a bad book at all and he reads it warmly but it was just a tiny bit too boring to get stuck in.
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