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Autobiography by a former criminal turned author?!
April 2, 2009 5:24 PM   Subscribe

NameThatBookFilter: Autobiography by a former criminal/hard timer that later became an author?

I'm getting sucked in to going through and adding books on Goodreads.com, and I'm having the darndest time remembering a particular book.

It was an autobiography written by a former criminal, who did hard time in a well known prison (not Alcatraz, but maybe Folsom, San Quentin, or Attica?), probably in the 50s or 60s.

The cover of the book, I'm fairly certain, was simply a face shot of said author, not his mugshot, but what seemed like a recent photo at the time (he looked to be in his 60s maybe). He was white, fairly short hair, possibly with a mustache.

In it, he basically traces his life from childhood and being in correctional facilities all the way up to him doing time in prison. While in prison though, I'm almost positive he authored at least one or two works of fiction, that might have even been somewhat popular.

I read this book somewhere back between around 2003-2004.

Anyone have any suggestions?
posted by mrhaydel to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe Edward Bunker?
posted by box at 5:30 PM on April 2, 2009


Oops--working link.
posted by box at 5:37 PM on April 2, 2009


Seconding Eddie Bunker.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:49 PM on April 2, 2009


Malcolm Braly?
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 5:59 PM on April 2, 2009


Perhaps, "Papillon" by Henri Charriere, about serving time on Devil's Island.
posted by paperzach at 6:12 PM on April 2, 2009


Underboss?
posted by Vavuzi at 6:15 PM on April 2, 2009


Seconding Braly. Is it False Starts?
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:29 PM on April 2, 2009


Your description matches Education of a Felon, Edward Bunker's autobiography, except that Bunker only published magazine articles in prison and didn't have books published until after he was released.
posted by Bobby Bittman at 6:33 PM on April 2, 2009


At first, I didn't think it was Edward Bunker, because the cover of the paperback edition linked to by Bobby Bittman just didn't match what I had in my mind.

However, this hardcover edition, most certainly what I checked out from my public library, is it. Guess I was wrong about it not being a mugshot and of it being of him when he was older.

Anyway, thank you once again Hivemind, you've done well. Very well.
posted by mrhaydel at 6:46 PM on April 2, 2009


esmerelda_jenkins and palmcorder_yajna get 1,000 points for actually suggesting/finding nearly an exact match for what I described.
posted by mrhaydel at 6:55 PM on April 2, 2009


Sounds something like the book (You Can't Win) that vomitous linked to in the Iceberg Slim post.

There was a German man convicted of murder, and while in prison he wrote a best selling novel, which contributed to his early release, and he went on to a literary career. With a serial killer on the loose, given his background, he was hired by the TV stations as a commentator on the situation. Only it turned out he actually was the serial killer. Sorry, I don't have the name, it came out in English a few years ago.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:45 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


There was a German man convicted of murder, and while in prison he wrote a best selling novel, which contributed to his early release, and he went on to a literary career. With a serial killer on the loose, given his background, he was hired by the TV stations as a commentator on the situation. Only it turned out he actually was the serial killer. Sorry, I don't have the name, it came out in English a few years ago.

Fascinating. Anybody have more info on this? (sorry for the derail)
posted by NekulturnY at 2:53 AM on April 3, 2009


That sounds like Jack Unterweger. He's an Austrian who was convicted of murder, and whilst in prison, wrote poetry and his autobiography. Because of his literary success, he was released early, and he became something of a minor celebrity. He became a journalist who wrote and spoke about criminal rehabilitation. Within two years of his release, he'd killed nine people and was finally arrested, and convicted.

If you want to read more about him, there's a lot of info here and here.
posted by spockette at 3:59 AM on April 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


How about Alexandr Solzhenitzyn? The Gulag is about as hard as time gets.
posted by Quizicalcoatl at 7:52 AM on April 3, 2009


Nekulturny/spockette: John Leake's Entering Hades is an English-language book about Unterweger.
posted by box at 9:03 AM on April 3, 2009


John McVicar is the obvious example. His book was later made into a film.
posted by w0mbat at 9:35 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


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