Last Man Standing: The Tragedy and Triumph of Geronimo Pratt

Overview

Jack Olsen's Last Man Standing is the gripping story of Geronimo Pratt, war hero and community leader, who was framed by the FBI in one of the greatest travesties of justice in American history.

Geronimo Pratt did not commit the murder for which he served twenty-seven nightmarish years. As a UCLA student, though, he had led the Los Angeles Chapter of the Black Panther Party, and became a target of the FBI. Here is the spellbinding saga of Pratt, his heroic lawyers, Johnnie ...

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Overview

Jack Olsen's Last Man Standing is the gripping story of Geronimo Pratt, war hero and community leader, who was framed by the FBI in one of the greatest travesties of justice in American history.

Geronimo Pratt did not commit the murder for which he served twenty-seven nightmarish years. As a UCLA student, though, he had led the Los Angeles Chapter of the Black Panther Party, and became a target of the FBI. Here is the spellbinding saga of Pratt, his heroic lawyers, Johnnie Cochran and Stuart Hanlon, and the Reverend James McCloskey, who overcame all the odds to bring the truth to light and free Geronimo.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Much more than [a] compelling story of justice tragically perverted and eventually triumphant."
--The Denver Post

"[A] book that makes me grateful to its author, a lasting testimonial, and a document born of the same enduring passion that infuses all of Olsen's work."
--David Guterson

"[A] page turner, more engrossing than any courtroom thriller because it is true."
--The Oregonian

Black Issues Book Review
If you've ever had any doubt that the scales of justice are sometimes unbalanced, then you need to read Olsen’s new biography. Subtitled The Tragedy and Triumph of Geronimo Pratt, Olsen tells the story of a classic frame-up in the corrupt Los Angeles and federal judicial systems of one of the 20th-century's most famous political prisoners. Readers will also find the parallel stories of a novice white lawyer (Stuart Hanlon) and a flashy veteran black attorney (Johnnie Cochran) who become allies to champion Pratt's cause. Together they lead a team of believers on a fight that lasted twenty-five years.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
One part Kafka and one part Orwell, the story of Geronimo Pratt's conviction and imprisonment, for a murder committed while he was 350 miles away from the crime scene and under FBI surveillance, is a textbook case of abuse of the American criminal justice system for political ends. Raised in small-town Louisiana, Pratt served two distinguished stints in Vietnam (earning a Purple Heart) before becoming a leader of the Black Panthers in Los Angeles. Visible and articulate, he was targeted by the FBI's counterintelligence program--and soon was set up and convicted for a highly publicized 1968 Santa Monica murder. At trial, where he was represented by the now-famous Johnnie Cochran, evidence was suppressed (and later destroyed), witnesses were intimidated and perjury was suborned. His case became an international cause c l bre--but the details of Pratt's struggles have not, until now, been readily available. Olsen tells Pratt's story with a compelling narrative grace. Drawing from a mountain of court records and other documentary evidence--as well as on the memories of Pratt, his family and his lawyers (both Cochran and his young colleague, Stuart Hanlon)--Olsen takes us from the early days of Pratt's imprisonment, through his appeals, and up to the day when his conviction was finally overturned and he went free. (By then, he'd served more than 26 years in prison, several of them in solitary confinement.) Rigorously researched, skillfully organized and passionately written, the book lays bare long-obscured facts about Pratt's case, as well as ugly truths about the conditions of prison and a grave miscarriage of justice. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Olsen is a journalist and prolific author who writes in the segmented style of a playwright as he chronicles the life and times of Geronimo Pratt, a former Black Panther Party leader who was spurned by his peers and framed by the authorities for a murder he did not commit. Pratt served 27 years behind bars until a persistent and determined coalition of clergy and lawyers (including the famed Johnnie L. Cochran) was able to dig up enough fresh evidence to spring him. The book focuses on aspects of the Pratt case that are common to the imprisoned innocent: the contamination of secondhand confession testimony and inflated eyewitness identifications, in this case extracted by bad cops and overzealous prosecutors. Added to this mix is the notorious status of the Black Panthers in 1968. As Olsen jumps from scene to scene, the egregious excesses and misinformation campaigns of the FBI, the LAPD, and the district attorney and the federal government's inter-agency effort to discredit the Black Panther movement become manifest. The book is a classic expos of how an innocent's rights can be swept under the rug of politics and power. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Philip Y. Blue, NY State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Lib., New York Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Booknews
Olsen, the author of 31 books, is a former bureau chief for and has written for numerous magazines. Here he turns his energetic reporting skills to the story of Geronimo Pratt, a member of the Black Panther Party who was targeted by the FBI to be "neutralized" in 1968. Pratt was imprisoned for a murder he did not commit and spent eight years in solitary confinement before he saw justice through the efforts of defense attorney Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. and others. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Steve Weinberg
With Last Man Standing, Olsen returns to the wrongful-conviction theme, at a juncture when it has become accepted as the conventional wisdom. His return to the theme is welcome: Predator was a mighty good book, but Last Man Standing is a great book, as compelling and thorough as any wrongful-conviction book I have read - and I have read most of them...Olsen's book goes where no other journalist had gone. —Seattle Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385493680
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/6/2001
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 318,122
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Olsen is the author of 31 books. He lives on an island in Puget Sound.
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2006

    changed my life

    this was my eye opener into the world of political and judicial injustice i had always heard about but never had i been told the story in the way last man standing was told i highly recommend this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2002

    Compells everyone to open their eyes to what our government is capable of

    The is a compassionate book about the life of a freedom warrior taken down, in 1972, by the FBI. It makes you wonder what is going on today. This book talks about an intellengent, brave leader who only wanted to better his people by empowering them with knowledge and pride. His life took a devastating turn when he served 27 years in prison for a crime he could not have commented. Through the shear perseverance of his lawyers, who stuck with him, he was finally freed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2000

    Outstanding Journalism and a Great Read

    Consummate journalist and author Jack Olsen has given us a superbly crafted chronicle of outrage -- of justice denied -- and a man's incredible strength of character in the face of terrible and terrifying prejudice and misuse of power. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to anyone, regardless of their area of interest or what they think they know about the Geornimo Pratt case, the LAPD, the FBI, or the American justice system. It is, quite simply, a hell of a story, beautifully told.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2000

    Dramatic, compelling and gripping documentary

    Is the U.S.A. rushing headlong to take the place of the evil empire that Ronald Reagan and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn painted the Soviet Union as? See for yourself. In the late sixties and early seventies, Geronimo Pratt, a decorated Viet Nam veteran, had become an effective organizer, teacher and freedom fighter for the Black Panther Party. To stop him and the BPP, local, state and federal governments illegally set him up for a fall. This book should bring back the Days of Rage! Read it or go stick you head in the sand!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2009

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