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Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance Hardcover – 28 Mar 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 243 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press (28 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312203543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312203542
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 13.3 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 861,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Author

Editor's Commentary on Leonard Peltier's book
This book will shake the conscience of the Nation--and the world. It's a flaming arrow aimed at the circled wagons of American injustice. EDITOR'S NOTE: As I write this, just before Christmas 1998, the U.S. Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, is in a state of lockdown and I'm out of touch with author Leonard Peltier--U.S. Prisoner #89637-132--just as his book is about to go into printed proofs. The Leavenworth lockdown was apparently caused by a fight that had nothing whatsoever to do with Leonard, yet he and all other inmates are being collectively punished. All personal belongings have been stripped from prisoners' cells. They've been allowed out of their locked cells only for a single ten-minute shower this past week. Just as I need him to give final approval to various details in the final edited manuscript, he's out of touch with the outside world--no visitors, no phone calls, no contact--period. No way of knowing for the time being how he's doing or what's been happening to him. The International Office of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee is flooding the internet with appeals for his supporters to contact the prison and the Bureau of Prisons to inquire about Leonard's health and safety. They have already been flooded with calls, faxes and letters--and also threatened with a lawsuit--over the continuing denial of competent medical treatment for Leonard's jaw problems, caused by a childhood case of lockjaw and compounded by near-disastrous surgery in 1996 at the hands of prison doctors in Springfield Medical Facility. Rumors this past fall that prison officials would finally allow Leonard to be treated by doctors at the renowned Mayo Clinic have, as of this writing, proved groundless. We keep hoping. Meanwhile, Leonard's case has become a centerpiece of Amnesty International's 1998-1999 focus on human rights abuses in the United States. President Clinton--the one person who can free Leonard with the stroke of a pen, and has had five years to do so--is under his own onslaught at this moment, one more victim of an overzealous and vindictive prosecutor. The European Parliament as well as the governments of Italy and Belgium have passed resolutions calling for clemency for Leonard Peltier as well as for Congressional investigations into the circumstances surrounding his case and the whole era of the 1970's "Reign of Terror" at Pine Ridge--and government involvement in it. Many within the Canadian government are demanding that Peltier be returned to that country, from which he was fraudulently extradited by the U.S. government in 1976. I pray that Leonard will be a free man so that we will have the privilege of hearing his own words spoken from his own lips. Although often written in pain and darkness and isolation, those words--like the incandescent spirit of this extraordinary human being--shine through every one these pages. I want to thank Leonard for the high honor of being chosen to select, edit, arrange, and, on more than a few occasions, to goad the author into revealing even deeper levels of his thought and memory. I hope that this book, prepared under often trying circumstances for the past two years, will add to a renewed surge in public awareness that will not only help to free Leonard but will help to free us all from the kind of insidious injustice that has put him where he is--and kept him there for nearly a quarter of a century. We have all, every one of us, allowed it to happen. We must all join--yes, every one of us--and demand that it end. If, when you read this, U.S.P. #89637-132 remains a prisoner of injustice, then the time is NOW for you, too, to speak out and for you, too, to act. Every single one of us is needed. As Leonard has said, "We must each be an army of one." To mobilize your own voice and your own conscience, contact the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, P.O. Box 583, Lawrence, KS 66044 ( or 785-842-5774). To write Leonard directly (which I urge you to do!), his address is: USPL Leonard Peltier #89637-132 PO Box 1000 Leavenworth, KS 66048 In the spirit of Leonard Peltier. /Harvey Arden

From the Back Cover

"A deeply moving and very disturbing story of a gross miscarriage of justice and an eloquent cri de coeur of Native Americans for redress, and to be regarded as human beings with inalienable rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution, like any other citizens. We pray it does not fall on deaf ears. America owes it to herself." --Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate

"For too long, both Leonard's supporters and detractors have seen him as a metaphor, as a public figure worthy of political rallies and bumper stickers, but very rarely as a private man who only wants to go home. I pray this book will bring Leonard home." --Sherman Alexie, author of "Indian Killer"

"It would be inadequate to describe Leonard Peltier's Prison Writings as a classic of prison literature, although it is that. It is also a cry for help, an accusation against monstrous injustice, a beautiful expression of a man's soul, demanding release." --Howard Zinn, author of --A People's History of the United States

"Listen to this fresh, brave voice, then inform yourself about the shameful case of Leonard Peltier." --Peter Matthiessen, author of "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse"

"This book takes the reader on an emotional and spiritual journey as Leonard Peltier's surprisingly hopeful reflections make the terrible injustice of his imprisonment for 24 years even more difficult to accept. Peltier's important journal details his trial and conviction which was based in part on admittedly false testimony and evidence so inconclusive that reasonable people everywhere have concluded that he should be granted clemency." --Wilma Mankiller, former chief of the Cherokee Nation, and author of "Mankiller"

"Leonard Peltier's words reveal a wise man who has become freer than his captors, despite his false imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. His thoughts here remind us of our true mission as Indian people, as human beings here on this humble, beautiful planet. These thoughts cannot be captured or locked behind bars, or destroyed by gunfire. They fly free." --Joy Harjo, Muskoke poet and musician, author of "The Woman Who Fell From the Sky"

ql"If you care about justice, read this brave book. If you care about the perpetuation of the white man's justice against the Native American, you must know the Leonard Peltier story." --Gerry Spence, author of "Give Me Liberty!" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read this book and I have cried, Like with Leonard Ihave felt many emotions, I am Indian, yet our people are still treated in this way why?? It is time for The White Government to wake up and see what they are doing to Innocent men like Leonard Peltier. This was one of the best Books I have ever read, It will tear at your heart, it will anger you, and it will depress you. Buy this book, read it, wake up and do something to help. We stand beside you my Brother Leonard!!!! IN THE SPIRT OF CRAZY HORSE!!! and IN THE SPIRT OF LEONARD PELTIER!!!! WE ARE STILL HERE!!!! END
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Format: Hardcover
This book is more terrifying than any work of fiction, because it's real. The horrific events Mr. Pelteer describes happened practically on our collective doorstep.
The man speaks from experience. His particular way of relating to the events around him is so readily accessible and vital I was finished the book and eagerly searching for more up to date information before I knew it.
If you're at all socially aware, or even consider yourself to be a kind and compassionate person, you owe it to yourself to read this book. I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm buying copies for my relatives for Christmas. It's that good.
Sometimes the most uplifting stories of all are also the saddest.
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Format: Hardcover
I began reading this book as someone pretty well informed about the Leonard Peltier case; I knew all the facts and figures, knew of all the lies and injustices perpetrated against this soft-spoken, engaging, and strong-hearted Ojibwa-Sioux...and still my heart broke a little more with each page I read. To read this book is to realize that Leonard Peltier is not a murderer, and his imprisonment does not bring justice for slain FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams. If anything, only more injustice has been done them, because there is no justice in convicting the wrong man. That says only that their "brothers" in the FBI do not care who really killed them, provided someone - someone Indian - pays for it. I knew from before that Leonard was a quietly strong man who cares deeply for his people, but in this powerful memoir he shows also his grace, his eloquence, and his tremendous capacity for forgiveness and hope. Everyone should read this book. In particular, certain higher-ups in the FBI should read this book. They already know that Leonard is not a murderer; to this point, they have not let that bother them. I challenge anyone to read this book and not feel for Leonard Peltier. To Leonard: I am a white woman, and I have never had the pleasure to meet you face to face (yet), but I say to you anyway, Mitakuye Oyasin! I am pulling for you as hard as I can, and I pray you will one day be free.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first read Peter Matthiessen's book "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse", my outrage at the multitude of wrongs to which Leonard Peltier has been subjected kept me up several sleepless nights. After reading "Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance", those emotions boiled over - I burned Peltier's prison number #89637-132 into an upside-down American Flag which I display not with pride, but sadness and protest. The only reason this innocent man remains incarcerated is that his tale is an embarrassment to a country that prides itself upon securing and protecting human rights and justice. Lately there has been a resurgent interest in Americans coming to grips with the innumerable wrongs our ancestors have committed against Native Americans. However, many fail to see that blatant problems continue to exist right here, right now, today, and everyday. Peltier's writings are a reminder to us all that we cannot merely apologize for the past. We must do something to correct those mistakes now and in the future.
As a medical student, hearing Leonard describe the inhumane treatment of his medical problems is abhorable. This man may very well die in jail, before President Clinton or a parole board finally grant him his freedom. I cannot say that reading his words will make your blood pressure rise like mine, but I can assure you that it will change your life. With open eyes, then you can decide whether to continue to sit silently by or speak out for the rights of a man whose jaw is nearly frozen shut.
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Format: Hardcover
Having myself been at one time a skeptic of Peltier's fantastic claims, I became convinced of his innocence after poring over the considerable & incontrovertible evidence that clearly proves this man is a victim of political repression. But this book is only secondarily about how Peltier was purposely made a scapegoat by an out-of-control, Gestapo-esque FBI, and by a few unscrupulous scoundrels within Department of Justice [sic]. (That astonshing, disturbing history has been recounted elsewhere, e.g., "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" or "Agents of Repression".)
Instead, in "Prison Writings" Peltier focuses more on the continuing historical struggle of his people to be treated with dignity and equality; offers insights into the realities of contemporary Indian existence beyond the sham portrayals in popular culture; and shows how his perceptions and opinions have been molded by his own experiences, from childhood to the starkness of prison life.
To be honest, I had not expected Peltier's book to be so well written, profound, and powerful; after all, Peltier's involvement with the American Indian Movement was not that of a fiery public speaker, decision-maker, or clever stager of outrageous stunts for the media (like some of AIM's leaders). Instead, Peltier's work with AIM was characterized by his preference to quietly perform the unglamorous yet neccessary tasks to serve his people (e.g., hauling water to homes with no plumbing, making home repairs, babysitting, fixing cars, chastising teenagers to be abstinent from alcohol and drugs, chopping firewood, etc).
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