Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThe outgrowth of an NBC radio documentary on U.S. citizens held in foreign prisons, this eye-opening survey should be read by any one traveling abroad. Laufer ( Iron Curtain Rising ), who visited Americans jailed in 21 countries, emphasizes three major points: that most nations adhere to the Napoleonic code, which presumes the accused to be guilty until proven innocent; that few nations grant bail between arrest and trial; and that the State department will rarely intervene to aid an accused or convicted American for fear of upsetting relations with the host country. ``Crimes'' discussed range from the utterly trumped-up to the naive (e.g., unwitting smuggling) to traffic violations to peddling drugs, and sentences range from the barbaric (amputations) to incarceration in so-called country-club prisons. While it's hard to sympathize with, for example, the longtime heroin smuggler who whines about her 47-and-a-half-year sentence in Thailand, Laufer's evenhanded presentation alerts readers to the pervasiveness of human-rights violations and to the vastly uneven quality of justice overseas. (Jan.)
Library JournalLaufer, an accomplished journalist and author of Iron Curtain Rising: A Personal Journal Through the Changing Landscape of Eastern Europe ( LJ 9/15/91), offers an expose about Americans who are enduring less than humane living conditions in prisons around the world. A majority of the detained Americans, he claims, failed to prepare or educate themselves about the local laws and cultural mores of foreign countries. The following indiscretions can translate into prison time outside the United States: an exposed female ankle (Saudia Arabia); a traffic accident (Mexico); and not having a sales receipt (Turkey). Laufer warns that U.S. travelers should not expect habeas corpus, bail, trial by jury, right to legal representation, or intervention by the U.S. government in these instances. The conditions that Robert Milton brought to light in Inside: Prison American Style (LJ 6/1/71) are replicated by Laufer on an international level. Nightmare Abroad is recommended for libraries with travel sections.--Scott Johnson, Meridian Community Coll. Lib., Miss.
Virginia DwyerThe graphic horror of "Midnight Express" goes international in this account of prison conditions Americans experience around the world. From the austere discipline of Japanese prisons to the chaotic savagery common in several mideastern cesspools, most conditions are far from desirable for a rights-conscious, free-choice American. A resourceful journalist, Laufer managed access to prisons in 21 countries, taping conversations with American inmates and ex-inmates. Although one citizen was grateful for the experience--he grew up--many are appalled. Their most disconcerting complaint, however, is not about foreign jails or jailers, but about their own country's failure to help them. Laufer's interviews with attaches make very clear the news-to-many that there are limits not only to what an American embassy can do, but also to what it will do for Americans in trouble outside the U.S.A., especially on drug charges. His closing cautions for travelers merit more attention than most travel guides. Bibliography and address list.
- Mercury House
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.32(w) x 9.33(h) x 0.78(d)
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