The brutally straightforward, first-person account of the life of James Carr, from his days as a child criminal on the streets of L.A. through his transformation to a notorious rebel convict alongside George Jackson in Folsom prison. Arrested in his teens for armed robbery and bookmaking, Carr (along with Jackson) formed the Wolf Pack, a brotherhood of African-Americans who banded together in order to survive the ongoing prison race wars. While guaranteeing their members a certain margin of material security, Carr eventually realized that the warring bands were pawns of the prison authorities bent on having the feuding factions kill each other off. Inspired by a seemingly diverse group of influences (the Panthers, the Situationists, Lautréamont and Nietzsche), he set about stopping the gang wars altogether in order to target the system itself—a maneuver that provoked the authorities to both increase their savagery and separate Carr and Jackson.
In the mid-’60s Carr was incarcerated in the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, where he again transformed himself from “uppity” inmate to calculating thinker bent on manipulating the authorities, and eventually engineered his own release. Just after the book’s completion, early one April morning in 1972, Carr was murdered “gangland style.” While his two killers were arrested and given life sentences, no motive was uncovered. “I’ve been struggling all my life to get beyond the choice of living on my knees or dying on my feet,” writes Carr; this struggle had a price he knew well and paid in full. MDG
Paperback: 222 pages