Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, Detroit native and Professor at the University of Michigan, is an award-winning historian who has written extensively on policing, mass incarceration and the current criminal justice system. Her recent book, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, was named a finalist for the National Book Award, appears on more than a dozen Best of 2016 lists, and is also included on the list of Best Human Rights Books of 2016. Thirteen years of research in the making, Blood in the Water tells the civil rights story of the Attica Correctional Facility uprising and the thirty-nine prisoners and hostages who died when the state of New York retook the prison by force. Thompson has served as a board member and advisor for a number of organizations such as the Prison Policy Initiative, and has shared her work with government officials at home and abroad including Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, and the UK.
“The power of this superb work of history comes from its methodical mastery of interviews, transcripts, police reports and other documents, covering 35 years, many released only reluctantly by government agencies, and many of those “rendered nearly unreadable from all of the redactions.” –The New York Times
WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE FOR HISTORY, NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST, NEW YORK TIMES MOST NOTABLE BOOKS of 2016, TOP TEN BEST BOOKS of 2016 PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, BEST HUMAN RIGHTS BOOKS of 2016
THE FIRST DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF THE INFAMOUS 1971 ATTICA PRISON UPRISING, THE STATE’S VIOLENT RESPONSE, AND THE VICTIMS’ DECADES-LONG QUEST FOR JUSTICE
On September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions during the four long days and nights that followed.
On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed thirty-nine men—hostages as well as prisoners—and severely wounded more than one hundred others. In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners. And, ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath and neglecting to provide support to the survivors and the families of the men who had been killed.
Drawing from more than a decade of extensive research, historian Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on every aspect of the uprising and its legacy, giving voice to all those who took part in this forty-five-year fight for justice: prisoners, former hostages, families of the victims, lawyers and judges, and state officials and members of law enforcement. Blood in the Water is the searing and indelible account of one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century.
Praise for Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
“Writing with cinematic clarity from meticulously sourced material, Thompson describes the uprising and its causes as well as the violent retaking of the prison grounds by police and correction officers…Thompson’s superb and thorough study serves as a powerful tale of the search for justice in the face of the abuses of institutional power.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“A masterly account . . . Essential . . . Blood in the Water restores [the prisoners’] struggle to its rightful place in our collective memory.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Chilling, and in places downright shocking . . . [Thompson] tells the story of the riot and its aftermath with precision and momentum.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Masterful.” —The Nation