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Newjack

Guarding Sing Sing
Written by: Ted Conover
Narrated by: Ted Conover
Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)
Price: CDN$ 37.58
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the critics say

"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)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve Horwitz
  • 2009-06-27

THE BEST BOOK ON PRISON LIFE I HAVE EVER READ!!!

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.
Thanks Again,
Steve

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jedd
  • 2010-01-28

Awesome Book -- Well Worth the Credit!!!

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Leialoha2
  • 2016-04-11

great to hear the viewpoint of a prison guard

it was cool to listen to the details of Conover's experiences as a prison guard. tough job.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Psychdoc
  • 2016-04-06

BRAVO...can't wait for his next

Where does Newjack rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top 5

What was one of the most memorable moments of Newjack?

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

Which character – as performed by uncredited – was your favorite?

Conover himself...although his descriptions of fellow academy cadets, supervisors, and inmates were so colorful I could see them.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Walk a mile in another person's shoes and you'll understand their world better

Any additional comments?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • paul j boyd
  • 2009-09-25

its a keeper

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • CHET YARBROUGH
  • 2016-03-27

DOING TIME

“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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Alexandra
  • 2015-05-30

Orange is the Newjack

What did you like best about Newjack? What did you like least?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

Very well-written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 2019-04-12

Absolutely amazing.

This was absolutely fantastic. I spent time at sing sing during a film shoot for an untitled pilot. During that time the CO's recommended I read this to give me some insight into what they deal with on a day to day basis. This book is absolutely fantastic. Thank you Ted, you're showing light on a job that is thankless and underreported. you're a saint.

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  • Scott A Brady
  • 2019-03-13

Great book with rare insight!

A very entertaining book that never lost my attention. The detail in the descriptions of inmate relationships with each other as well as the guards and also the drudgerous grind of working in a State run institution seemed spot on and were relayed in a way that keeps you wanting to know what happens next.
For a documentary of sorts, this author has done well both in writing a story that is captivating and informative to boot. He also does a very nice job of narration.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how prison life can affect both the prisoner as well as those that keep him captive.

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  • horsestuff
  • 2019-03-01

Interesting well written well read

Different perspective on prison life. Would have been interesting to hear more stories. Conover was respectful towards both inmates and guards in his reporting - would liked to have heard conovers perspective on more of the “messy’ stuff like gangs, etc. he made sing sing sound pretty tame.