Solitary by Albert Woodfox


Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement--in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana--all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America's prison and judicial sy...

Details Solitary

Release DateMar 5th, 2019
PublisherGrove Press
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Race, Politics, History

Reviews Solitary

  • Calzean
    Yikes what an indictment of the US legal and prison system. This is a book on many of the things wrong with the Land of the Brave. It is not much of an endorsement. Woodfox's experiences in the aptly named prison Angola, Louisiana. It read like a war zone, ruled by despots with all the accompanying violence, rape, racism, corruptness and hopelessness. But Woodfox finds hope and strength in his adoption of Black Panther ideals of unity, helping ot...
  • Lou
    “Our resistance gave us an identity. Our identity gave us strength. Our strength gave us an unbreakable will.”-Albert Woodfox“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”—Frederick Douglass“[If ] any white man in the world says ‘Give me liberty...
  • Brian Wraight
    Please just read it. Woodfox isn’t the first person to suffer at the hands of America’s broken criminal justice system and, as long as the prison industrial complex and systemic racism continue to chug along and get away with it, he most certainly won’t be the last. Yes, he’s one of many. Yes, it’s a story that we’ve heard before. And that’s exactly why his story is important and needs to be told.
  • Niklas Pivic
    When Albert Woodfox was incarcerated and sentenced to quite a stretch in jail, he didn't know what to think, really; he was a teenager who'd got muddled up in basic criminal teenage stuff.One of Woodfox's great strengths is his ability to express himself straightforwardly, without mucking up a line. As here:The first time I was called a nigger by a white person I was around 12. I was waiting with dozens of other kids at the end of the Mardi Gras ...
  • Suzanne
    Some books we read to bear witness; to acknowledge the pain and suffering our country causes her own citizens to bear. Albert Woodcox was sent to prison, once there his life became a living hell. Accused of a crime there that he did not commit, he was held in solitary confinement for decades. Decades. This book explains his experience and the struggle for his release. Prison reform is but the tip of the iceberg in the change needed to rectify wha...
  • Karen Ashmore
    A very hard to read book. It starts out with his life in crime as a petty thief, then druggie, then armed robbery. Then went on to describe the injustices of the criminal justice and prison system. And the horrors of Angola, the worst prison in the US, located in the backwards state of Louisiana. All very hard to read. It is amazing that he was able to keep his head up and become a crusader for criminal justice reform.
  • Kerisa Coleman
    From the moment I picked up this book to this very moment, I was enthralled by the harsh realities of the U.S. criminal justice system, both past and current. Albert Woodfox adopted many principles of manhood and how he managed to hold onto his values, beliefs and convictions all those many years is something I can’t even fathom. Prison reform is a must. Having worked in the federal prison system for a number of years, I’m privy to the maltre...
  • Marika
    Albert Woodfox, holds the record for being the held in solitary confinement prisoner in the US. 43 years. Let that sink in. To stay sane, he made a vow with 2 other prisoners, who became known as the Angola Three, that they would remain strong and grow as men despite the obvious injustice and torture. Author Albert Woodfox has done the remarkable. It's almost as if he is sitting next to you on a park bench relating his story in a calm, measured w...
  • David
    An important book with great significance for our times. It should be on everyone's 'must read' list. You should be aware, however, it will not entertain. It will enlighten, enrage and enrich.
  • Florine
    Amazing memoir! I've still have tears rolling down my face. I am in awe of this man's mental strength and integrity, despite all the violence, humiliation and loss he faced over the years. Yes, he committed crimes that sent him to jail in the first place, but then COINTELPRO took care of him, framed him and tried to break him.I'm more enraged and disgusted by the judicial system than ever. In addition to the deplorable and inhumane conditions of ...
  • Kimberlee (reading.wanderwoman)
    "After years in prison in solitary confinement, I experienced all the emotions the Louisiana department of Public Safety and Corrections wanted from me - anger, bitterness, the thirst to see someone suffer the way I was suffering, the revenge factor, all that. But I also became something they didn't want or expect - self-educated. I could lose myself in a book. Reading was a bright spot for me. Reading was my salvation." "The need to be treated ...
  • Jennie Wellman
    Sometimes I'm nervous to read books about social justice issues. Sometimes, maybe too often, books on social justice issues end with a bootstraps narrative. I understand why- it's more palatable to audiences. But Woodfox doesn't provide a bootstraps narrative in this book. Woodfox uses personal experience, philosophy, social science, and analysis to look at the ideology and hegemony that allows for atrocities like what happened to the Angola Four...
  • Gail
    I spent the first bit of this book wondering when I would start feeling empathy for his plight- he speaks so plainly and matter of factly about his (many) crimes, I didn’t think that jail would be an inappropriate consequence. But I only had to wait a bit, and the horrors of the injustices brought upon him (decades in solitary, clearly the victim of vendettas by wardens, etc) become inescapable. I admire his strength of spirit and am glad he su...
  • Franc Woods
    Heart wrenching story of Albert Woodfox and the Angola 3. How he survived the horror of 40+ years of solitary confinement is beyond belief. How a government that is part of this country could be so callous in its vengeful actions towards these men is unbelievable. My only criticism of this book came in epilog. Alberts one sided view, although understandable, is biased (black lives matter). All lives matter... black, white, yellow, brown, blue, po...
  • Slappy
    Wow. This is a book that will stay with you for a long time. 40 years in solitary confinement for a crime he didn't commit. A searing indictment of the systemic racism in the US justice system and the private prison complex. Woodfox names names: People like Anne Butler, who freely writes books which are reviewed on Goodreads, and openly lives in Louisiana, people like Buddy Caldwell, Bobby Jindal, all openly conspired to imprison and torture the ...
  • Corinna
    This was a difficult book to read. He spends a lot of time describing the circumstances of his incarceration and the politics of Angola, which were fascinating. He spends very little time discussing the impact of this on him emotionally and psychologically , which is understandable, but made the normally personal form of the autobiography to feel less personal. Still, any way you slice it, this is a powerful read on the prison system, from the 60...
  • Rebecca Tolley
    Albert Woodfox spent decades in Angola prison, in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. After coming to prison for armed robbery (for which he was guilty), he adopted the beliefs of the Black Panthers and Angola's administration separated him and two other prisoners from the general population, and basically tortured them for 30+ years. Very depressing to read about his experiences. His resilience is something else. What a brave man...
  • Trashy Dreams
    Aside from Woodfox (and his friends/family), the only shining light in this book is knowing that he eventually gets out. Other than that, it's one of the most upsetting and extensive accounts of corruption, racism and a complete disregard for any kind of recognizable justice. Where most men would have broken any number of times, Mr. Woodfox demonstrated endless amounts of pride, discipline, wisdom and patience. I wish him every possible bit of jo...
  • Aida Alberto
    I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and all opinions are my own. Wow, wow, wow. I couldn't put it down until the last page. I love memoirs and this is one of my favorite ones this year. Absolutely pick up this winner of a book. You will not be disappointed. Happy reading! #Solitary #NetGalley
  • emily
    4.5/5 A harrowing, personal story about the injustice and prejudice in the Louisiana justice system. This book makes you confront the inhumanity in people and admire the bravery in the oppressed. It is not an easy book to read with 40 years of legal struggle and oppression, but it is important to learn what other fellow human beings are going through.
  • Evan
    Woodfox is a stronger person than every single coward, liar, and bigot who has helped perpetuate the institutionalized racism that still strongly exists in our society and that kept him and other men behind bars for so long. Should be required reading for... everyone.
  • Derrick Lim
    Albert Woodfox's experience in the legal system of America is eerily like a modern retelling of Franz Kafka's 'The Castle'.
  • Bill
    An important story. A bit too simplistic for me.
  • Cindywue
    Albert Woodfox’ courageous story is spellbinding. His experience both breaks your heart and inspires by his courageous example.
  • Leah Colby
    A MUST read if you want to learn anything about our broken criminal justice system. #themoreyouknow
  • Ruth
    Heartbreaking and infuriating.
  • Rae Simpson
    Minuteman. Too painful to read. 40 years in solitary for killing a white guard, exonerated and released 2016, advocates for prison reform, kept good qualities despite treatment.