4 Nonfiction Books That Read Like Fiction
Dive into these riveting, timely reads.
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Shane Bauer's riveting, undercover, firsthand account working as a prison guard in Louisiana unveils how for-profit prisons can exploit the people they incarcerate and the people who guard them. Armed with only a radio and dubious staff training, Bauer learns two job skills: self-preservation and ensuring prisoners never forget their place. As the weeks unfold, he discovers that the prisoners lack adequate food and medical care, and that they develop inappropriate relationships with guards. Cruelty quickly begets cruelty; the more he works, the more he begins to take on the persona of all the people he observes and becomes aggressive in meting out punishment. "Striving to treat everyone as human takes too much energy," he writes. Bauer himself was held in an Iranian prison for two years, so he knows what it feels like to be on the inside, yet he brings to the text a journalist's purview and draws a direct line between American slavery, the founders of the prison corporations and the job he is hired to do. In a fascinating tightrope walk, Bauer shows that, in this so-called industry, the financial bottom line comes at a high human cost.
— Kerri Arsenault