From the Bottom of the Heap : The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King
Overview - Expanded and updated with new photographs and stories, this autobiography of one of the Angola Three traces the life of Robert Hillary King from his early days in Louisiana, through a troubled adolescence, a conviction that kept him behind bars for decades, his relationship with the Black Panther Party, and his eventual release from prison. Read more...
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More About From the Bottom of the Heap by Robert Hillary King; M.D. Dr. Terry Kupers; Mumia Abu-Jamal
Expanded and updated with new photographs and stories, this autobiography of one of the Angola Three traces the life of Robert Hillary King from his early days in Louisiana, through a troubled adolescence, a conviction that kept him behind bars for decades, his relationship with the Black Panther Party, and his eventual release from prison. In 1970, a jury convicted Robert Hillary King of a crime he did not commit and sentenced him to 35 years in prison. He became a member of the Black Panther Party while in Angola State Penitentiary, successfully organizing prisoners to improve conditions. In return, prison authorities beat him, starved him, and gave him life without parole after framing him for a second crime. He was thrown into solitary confinement, where he remained for 29 years. In 2001, the state grudgingly acknowledged his innocence and set him free. A story of inspiration and courage, this simple and humble narrative strips bare the economic and social injustices inherent in society, while proving to be a powerful literary testimony to the triumph of the human spirit.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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King has led a remarkable life: a hardscrabble childhood in and around New Orleans, a troubled adolescence, and a series of encounters with the justice system that led to several stints at Louisianaâs Angola State Penitentiary. He radicalized while serving his third sentence, joining the Black Panther Party and agitating for improved conditions for prisoners. King was subsequently placed in solitary confinement, where he remained for the better part of three decades. The book is an important document of the failures of the justice system. Mumia Abu-Jamalâs foreword attests to the gravity of these failures. However, Kingâs own telling doesnât quite measure up to the story itself. His prose is loose and repetitive, particularly in the early chapters, so it sometimes difficult to keep tabs on people and events. The text is followed by a small collection of interviews and essays that prove engaging but haphazard, in keeping with the anecdotal bent of the autobiography. Kingâs story is powerful, carefully observed, and deserves a wide audience, but such an incendiary topic requires greater precision in its telling. B&W photos. (Dec.)