The No. 1 best-seller and storyteller writes a forceful account of life inside the British penal system.
Archer is one of the great survivors: when catastrophe strikes (as, in his case, it always seems to), he invariably bounces back and forges a new career (or at least reinvigorates an old one) out of the ashes of the disaster. But many felt that his recent conviction for perjury and the subsequent prison term was really the last of Jeffrey Archer's nine lives being used up. The Conservative Party had turned a blind eye to previous indiscretions, but his time inside prison walls would clearly mark the end of his political ambitions.
Of course, what Archer may want to be remembered for is his skill as a writer, a phenomenally successful writer, in fact, with an iron-clad reputation for producing page turners. Which is what makes A Prison Diary by FF 8282 (Archer's name is not to be found on the front of the jacket) such a remarkable document. This is the book that created further problems for the writer, possibly contravening the rules that state a convicted prisoner cannot make money from his crime. But whatever the rights or wrongs of that situation, there is no denying the straight-from-the-hip verisimilitude of this unvarnished picture of life inside Belmarsh for a category D prisoner. As a picture of our penal system, this is eye-opening stuff, and combines a strong denunciation of current practices with fascinating day-to-day detail of life inside. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It speaks of the trials (again, excuse the unintentional pun) and tribulations of life behind bars, and the stark culture shock that first time offenders face when they pass through the iron gates. Interesting though, is the fact that the sanest, friendliest people in there, those that befriend him, and look after him, not because of his outside status (many of them spend too long behind bars to know) but because they want to, because, in their own morals he did not deserve to be there, and they wanted to help and ensure that Archer survives, those people are in there for some of the worst crimes.
A fantastic work, which really brings home the state of Britains prisons in the 21st century.
His frank and sometimes moving account of life inside was one of the most fascinating books of the year.
Not always sympathetic, sometimes over didactic, sometimes very disturbing, Jeffrey this time has produced a weighty book, putting hard questions to the prison service, the Home Secretary and to our own consciences.
In reading it, one has to learn to ignore the continual hard-done-by attitude of Archer. He consistently pleads his innocence, despite his guilt being indisputable, and complains about the 'bias' of the trial judge. We are treated to a stream of commentary about the judge's summing-up, and as if that's not enough, Archer tells us all about the letters he receives sympathising with him and agreeing that he has been treated unfairly (he doesn't mention any correspondence which says that he got what he deserved!). He also name-drops constantly in relation to 'famous' people who are apparently on his side.
He also has to name-drop in relation to fellow prisoners, so we hear about Ronnie Biggs, the Great Train Robber, who is also in Belmarsh, and also Barry George, on remand at the time awaiting trial for the murder of Jill Dando. In this respect, it is hard to understand how the book got published; it is apparently against Home Office rules to identify serving prisoners in this way.
All that aside, there are some telling insights into prison life which deserve wider reading.Read more ›