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The Birdman of Alcatraz Paperback – Oct 1989

4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Comstock Editions Inc (Oct. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891740554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891740551
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 1.7 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,049,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jun. 1998
Format: Paperback
Thomas E. Gaddis has produced an absolutely incredible work! The story of Robert Stroud's life in prison - in solitary confinement, is thoroughly interesting, gripping and thought-provoking. The reader really gets to know Robert Stroud, and is left with a feeling of great respect and admiration for a man who, despite the absolute horrors of a life spent mostly in solitary confinement, was nevertheless able to develop his potential to become a world famous ornithologist and author.
Birdman of Alcatraz is a story of human endurance under monumental restrictions and difficulties. An immensely encouraging book, as it demonstrates the incredible potential in man to overcome enormous hardship and injustice, and the ability to rise above it all and make an highly respected contribution to the world.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Aug. 1998
Format: Paperback
Inspirational book about how a man overcomes the hardships and limitations of years in prison, transforming himself from a brutal illiterate into a man respected throughout the world for this contributions to science. Fascinating story, well told by the author. The movie, starring Burt Lancaster, is excellent as well, but read the book first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BadgerMeister on 11 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is without doubt one of the most important and personally influential books I have ever read.

The story of Robert F Stroud - the "Birdman of Alcatraz" - is widely-known through the much lauded Burt Lancaster movie of the same name. But the REAL story of Stroud is even more awe-inspiring.

I can confidently say that this book changed my life. Learning that a man like Stroud did what he did in the circumstances he was in, inspired me to be a man, take responsibility for myself and ultimately to study hard at school and college. Where parents, teachers and friends failed, Stroud (through Gaddis's excellent telling of this tale) was the driver for me to succeed academically in my life when all around me thought I would amount to nothing.

This is a great book - or rather a great story in a very well-written book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Read it and be inspired.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ROBERT STIRLING on 4 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A classic
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
The story of a man who was never defeated 12 Oct. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Depicted in this book, not as the bizarre "Birdman" of legend, but as a real man with great courage, fortitude, and intelligence, Robert Stroud is seen as a man who, despite his 54 years of incarceration (43 of which were in isolation of one form or another) maintained a dignity rarely equaled. Even with the enormous obstacles in his way, Gaddisis was able to unveil many of the injustices shown to Stroud throughout his life in prison, the ways he struggled to keep his sanity, to go from a third-grade dropout to a world-renowned expert in the health and care of canaries to an old man who was not even allowed many of the sparse comforts afforded fellow inmates. Gaddis does not try to hide the violence in Stroud's past, yet he also makes it possible to view glimpses of the man that Stroud could have been. With the last words written only one year before Stroud's death, this book was able to lay open for public view not only one man's life but also many of the injustices and atrocities with which the history of the American prison system is riddled. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
An Incredible book of the strength of human endurance 18 Jun. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Thomas E. Gaddis has produced an absolutely incredible work! The story of Robert Stroud's life in prison - in solitary confinement, is thoroughly interesting, gripping and thought-provoking. The reader really gets to know Robert Stroud, and is left with a feeling of great respect and admiration for a man who, despite the absolute horrors of a life spent mostly in solitary confinement, was nevertheless able to develop his potential to become a world famous ornithologist and author.
Birdman of Alcatraz is a story of human endurance under monumental restrictions and difficulties. An immensely encouraging book, as it demonstrates the incredible potential in man to overcome enormous hardship and injustice, and the ability to rise above it all and make an highly respected contribution to the world.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant life story-Reviewd by Sarena C. from Bonogin 4213, Australia 25 May 2010
By C. Templeton - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
What an incredible and unbelievably sad story.I cried often whilst reading it - his love of birds, his inner strength, the adversity of the penal system and their unrelenting determination to keep him in solitary confinement and to take away his lifeline, his canaries. I am left with these questions: Was he still incarcerated when he died? When /where was he when the end of his ordeal happened? What was his age? The penal system was more than cruel to him: it was inhumane. A brilliant life story. Can't wait to try and find his other books now out of print: Stroud's Digest on the Diseases of Birds, Diseases of Canaries and Looking Outward: A History of the U.S. Prison System from Colonial Times to the Formation of the Bureau of Prisons.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating story of an inmate left in isolation 29 Dec. 2013
By Akcloudwoman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book because I am a birder. I learned about birds, and also learned a lot more. This is a fascinating tale of a man who was put in prison after being raised by an abusive father and overprotective mother. With a only a third grade education, Robert Stroud took advantage of his time to learn about bird diseases and write one of the best text books on the subject (for it's time). After that, he wrote an extensive study of prisons and prison culture. Unfortunately Robert was not allowed to publish that manuscript. The author did extensive research about the Birdman and about the history of the penal system and the prisons where Robert was housed. Robert Stroud did commit a crime and deserved to be punished, however, as the story unfolds you wonder what he could have accomplished had his prison history been different or had the history of the prisons where he was housed had been different. It is a heart wrenching tale of a life under difficult circumstances, and Robert made the best of it.
30 of 45 people found the following review helpful
this book is nothing but a lie 9 Dec. 2004
By Walter Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is nothing but a lie. Robert Stroud was an anti

social misfit would could not function in either the outside

world or within a prison. It was never a question of

rehabiliatation. Stroud was a smart, capable man who made

choices that put him where he was. He killed a man and went

to Jail. He would have got out of Jail but for his decision

to kill a guard.

And for killing the guard, he would have been executed but for

the intervention of a president (Wilson) who saved him. Out

of "gratitude", he made repeated threats to kill the federal

prosecuter who had prosecuted him for the murder of the guard.

At a time of brutal treatment in prisons and strict laws,

Stroud was given every chance imaginable. But rehabiliation

requires that a man be willing to change first. And Stroud

was never interested in changing.

If you can't function in the outside and you can't even function

in prison, you end up where Stroud did. Rehabiliation would

have started with Stroud being able to function within prison,

but he never even managed that first step.

What his interest in birds showed was that he was an

extremely gifted man in some respects, but he was also a

viciously anti-social killer. The one could not be seperated

from the other. And that makes it worse.

Stroud never became a productive member of anything. Even

with the birds, he could only function "productively" in

total isolation from other people.

Thomas E. Gaddis motivations for writing this book as he did

have never been clear. But he has created an enduring myth

and made a victim out of Stroud.
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