The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison

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Overview

An account of life in Leavenworth Prison, based on interviews with inmates and others, describes the lives of a sexual predator, a gang member in for forty-two years, a sociopath in ""no human contact"" status, and others. 

An explosive eyewitness portrait of life inside the nations's most notorious maximum security prison by the author of Family of Spies. Earley spent two years inside Leavenworth--the infamous penitentiary that is home to 1,400 of the nation's ...

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The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison

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Overview

An account of life in Leavenworth Prison, based on interviews with inmates and others, describes the lives of a sexual predator, a gang member in for forty-two years, a sociopath in ""no human contact"" status, and others. 

An explosive eyewitness portrait of life inside the nations's most notorious maximum security prison by the author of Family of Spies. Earley spent two years inside Leavenworth--the infamous penitentiary that is home to 1,400 of the nation's most dangerous criminals--to write this gripping, critically acclaimed investigative report.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With the cooperation of the Bureau of Prisons, Earley ( Family of Spies ) spent much time from mid-1987 to mid-1989 at Leavenworth, a maximum-security institution whose nickname, the Hot House, derives from its lack of air conditioning despite the searing Kansas summers. Interviewing the warden, the guards from captains on down and the convicts, many of whom are imprisoned for shocking crimes, the author takes readers into the mind of the recidivist criminal to show an egoistic, violent nature locked into a code of behavior with elements of machismo, hyper-sensitivity to slights and the conviction that informing is the greatest crime of all. There is also hatred of guards, who hate back, all this played out against a backdrop of racism, sexual exploitation, constant tension and sometimes gratuitous cruelty by the staff and the bureau toward the inmates. A remarkable book. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Leavenworth Prison, nicknamed ``the hot house'' because of its lack of ventilation, has the most dangerous inmates and the most repressive conditions in the country. Journalist Earley ( Prophet of Death: The Mormon Blood-Atonement Killings , LJ 11/1/91; Family of Spies , Bantam, 1988) spent two years interviewing the inmates and employees of Leavenworth Prison. Here, he provides portraits of five convicts, two guards, and the warden. Although he includes many poignant facts about life inside this modern-day penal colony, Earley's presentation is uneven, often promising more than it yields. The emphasis is on sensationalism rather than analysis or exposition. While this is an acceptable approach, Earley often fails to give the reader an absorbing story. The episodes are disjointed and do not always add up to the kind of climax one would expect from the material. An optional purchase. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/91.-- Frances Sandiford, Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
Searing, compelling eyewitness account of the men—inmates and guards—of Leavenworth Prison. The Bureau of Prisons gave Earley (Family of Spies, 1988) unprecedented permission to come and go as he pleased and talk to any inmate without guards present. Earley's end of the deal: he would have no protection. His chronicle concentrates on five prisoners, the new warden, and several guards. Meet Carl Cletus Bowles, three life sentences: paroled in 1965, he robbed a bank, kidnapped the California state controller general, his wife, and their small child, stole several cars, held six other people hostage, and murdered an Oregon policeman. What goes on in the mind of a man like that? Earley spent two years talking to him. Meet Lieutenant Phillip Shoats, head guard of 719 Marielistas. He was a tough guy who could make the Cubans walk a chalk line while reports of his brutality were suppressed. Then he was blown away by a shotgun wielded by his 14-year-old son, desperate after the beatings Shoats was giving him, his brother, and mother. Did Leavenworth brutalize Shoats or was it the terrible secret he wouldn't tell his wife, revealed only at his death? In the pen there are only two emotions: fear and rage. Here is where a man "runs the gears" on the man in the next cell for playing his radio too loud ("You slam a shank into his chest and then pull up and over and then down and over, just like shifting gears on a car"). Here is the stronghold of the predatory gang—the Aryan Brotherhood—that specializes in protection, extortion, and narcotics. To join, one must "earn his bones" by murdering someone. Earley, amazingly, gained the confidence of one of the gang'sfounders, who told him: "At San Quentin, the herds [blacks] were getting out of hand and a bunch of old white bulls simply said `Fuck this' and they decided to stand up...." Fascinating white-knuckle tour of hell, brilliantly reported.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553560237
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1993
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 133,960
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(15)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Captivating!

    When you put this book down you will thank God you are free. The author puts you in prison and in peril until the last page.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013

    The Hot House Review Pete Earley¿s novel, or better yet investi

    The Hot House Review
    Pete Earley’s novel, or better yet investigative report, portrays the life of convicts holed up inside the United State’s most notorious 5th level penitentiary, Leavenworth prison. Throughout the novel Earley slowly begins to pull apart the bricks shielding the inner prison from the public eye by describing the day to day life of many convicts each with their own struggles and pain masked over by the horrendous crimes they’ve committed. Earley makes you forced to see the horrible things taking place in the prison, from rape to drug deals, to officers being beaten to death. Earley doesn’t hide any of this in his novel making it one of the best to read if you’re curious about what life is really like behind a high level penitentiary’s bars.
    A wonderful yet horrific work of literature, this book shadows many themes within its bloody depths. One of the most prominent is redemption (just what it means to be “good”). A character that struggles with such ideas more than any other is the convict William Post, a former burglar sentenced to 45 years because of his file decorated with felonies since he was eight. Post is an upstanding citizen in the house and earned a college degree while in prison yet no matter what he does, his pleas for a more lenient decision are denied over and over. He is frustrated by this considering he read of a convict only sentenced to nine years after he raped and murdered a teenage girl, and begs the question “If the parole board makes me stay here for twenty-five years, are they telling me I am twice as bad as a guy like him?” (Earley 26.) The book makes you think for yourself on what these themes mean to you. What defines a good person from a bad?
    Out of what I liked and disliked, I would have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the day to day lives of real convicts. Each of their tales were fascinating and filled with pain and anger that made them seem relatable and almost like I knew them by the end. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that it made me uncomfortable to read but even that made it all the better since it made it real. I would suggest no one under sixteen read this because of how gruesome it is.
    My other recommended work would be: The Night of the Gun by David Carr. It’s a great novel surrounding the life of a man who overcame his addiction to cocaine after going to rehab multiple times. It’s great if you’re interested in stories of redemption and factual accounts on what life is like trapped in an addict’s brain.
    The overall rating I feel this book deserves is a five out of five. It was impactful and drew out a sort of sympathy from me more so than any other book I’ve read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting, But Nothing Special

    The book is intersting, especially if you are intersted in getting first hand accounts of inmates from Leavenworth. The book to me seems to jump around and not flow very well. It's chapters are dedicated to individual inmates and their stories (although some overlap).
    The author was given unrestricted (and unprotected) access to the inmates, which was an interesting perspective.

    It didn't keep me wanting to come back to read, I was interested enough to finish it but it was basically nothing that I felt grabbed me to keep me wanting to read it.

    Not a bad book, not a great book, something to pass the time.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2008

    Awesome!

    An incredible story. Prisoners and staff speak openly and candidly to the author. A level 5 penitentary, Leavensworth is as brutal and unpredictable as it gets. Earley is allowed unlimited, unprecedented access to anyone or any place in the prison. This book is recommended for sociology classes and people interested in careers in corrections.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2007

    Inside The Beast

    Often referred by as a classic non-fiction book of the United States penal system, Peter Earley spent time (literally) in Leavenworth Federal Penetitenary with 6 of America's, if not the human race's, men on earth and got to know them personally, as closely can to a convict without getting stabbed, raped or killed or all of the above. All of them were unique and some you had pity for. Thomas Silverstein, the Aryan Brotherhood member, more of a follower than any leader, no matter what the BOP claims. A paranoid sociopath that was picked since he was a little boy and had to fight his way through life only to become the Nelson Mandela of white inmates because he killed three D.C. Black inmates and a prison guard, sitting in a Plexiglas cell in the basement with his art and madness. Then there's Warden Robert Matthews, a standard bear bureaucrat for the Man, disrespected for his race both inmates and guards only to become respected in the chiseled institution before he is promoted. There is also Thomas Little and Carl Bowles, the latter a violent sexual predator that anybody would be glad to see locked up. Thomas Little, the sex slave turned jailhouse 'wife' of cop killer and homosexual Carl Bowles, he later becomes his racketeer-in-partner--a situation one would only find in prison. There's William Post, the manipulative bank robber who takes care of cats and does most of the mail. Norman Bucklew, the charming if mysterious killer who we really never know, in between stints at the more modern Marion and Leavenworth. The rowdy Cubans who find an unlikely ally. Finally, there is the tenacious and fearsome Dallas Scott, presumed leader of the Aryan Brotherhood at Leavenworth who, like most of his compatriots hates minorities, especially blacks, like the El Rukns, D.C. Blacks and the Black Guerilla Family, conducting race wars, which he was a veteran during his stay at San Quentin. Due to his cirrohis, Scott seemed to be the most authentic of all, expect ownership of the gang, and even had some semblance of remorse, at least for his kids. Truly an engrossing, horrifying, and sobering tale inside the American prison system. Brilliant investigative reporting in what has to be one of the worst places in the world and it is right in the United States. Shows the true and brutal nature of life in federal prisons in the United States.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2007

    A good book

    I don't read many books but The Hot House was out-standing. It gives you a good idea as to what happens inside the the walls in Kansas.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    Leavenworth Kansas

    This is a great book if you're looking for an inside view of what life is like inside of one of American's most dangerous prisons. My uncle actually retired from working at this prison, and he remembers when Pete came to write this book. So yes it's true, Pete actually did get access into the halls of this prison.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013

    Pete Earley¿s novel, or better yet investigative report, portray

    Pete Earley’s novel, or better yet investigative report, portrays the life of convicts holed up inside the United State’s most notorious 5th level penitentiary, Leavenworth prison. Throughout the novel Earley slowly begins to pull apart the bricks shielding the inner prison from the public eye by describing the day to day life of many convicts each with their own struggles and pain masked over by the horrendous crimes they’ve committed. Earley makes you forced to see the horrible things taking place in the prison, from rape to drug deals, to officers being beaten to death. Earley doesn’t hide any of this in his novel making it one of the best to read if you’re curious about what life is really like behind a high level penitentiary’s bars.
    A wonderful yet horrific work of literature, this book shadows many themes within its bloody depths. One of the most prominent is redemption (just what it means to be “good”). A character that struggles with such ideas more than any other is the convict William Post, a former burglar sentenced to 45 years because of his file decorated with felonies since he was eight. Post is an upstanding citizen in the house and earned a college degree while in prison yet no matter what he does, his pleas for a more lenient decision are denied over and over. He is frustrated by this considering he read of a convict only sentenced to nine years after he raped and murdered a teenage girl, and begs the question “If the parole board makes me stay here for twenty-five years, are they telling me I am twice as bad as a guy like him?” (Earley 26.) The book makes you think for yourself on what these themes mean to you. What defines a good person from a bad?
    Out of what I liked and disliked, I would have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the day to day lives of real convicts. Each of their tales were fascinating and filled with pain and anger that made them seem relatable and almost like I knew them by the end. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that it made me uncomfortable to read but even that made it all the better since it made it real. I would suggest no one under sixteen read this because of how gruesome it is.
    My other recommended work would be: The Night of the Gun by David Carr. It’s a great novel surrounding the life of a man who overcame his addiction to cocaine after going to rehab multiple times. It’s great if you’re interested in stories of redemption and factual accounts on what life is like trapped in an addict’s brain.
    The overall rating I feel this book deserves is a five out of five. It was impactful and drew out a sort of sympathy from me more so than any other book I’ve read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Missing pages???

    Reading The Hot House. This is one of my favorite books. I was thrilled to get it on my new Nook.
    I have a problem with pages 298-300...
    The book seems to be missing whole pages/paragraphs.
    I double checked with my paper copy. Yup, missing content.
    I'm hoping that this is an isolated issue with just this title.
    The book gets 5 stars...the missing content issue has me worried about ordering another title. I have 90 pages left. I'm not sure how these reviews work, or if I'll get a reply.
    Probably more of a customer service thing?
    Anyone else have this problem?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 18, 2013

    It's so so.

    Not what I expected but an ok read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    I'm confused. People are locked up without air conditioning in s

    I'm confused. People are locked up without air conditioning in scorching heat and often solitary and are... dangerous? Insane? We're supposed to trust an author the authorities trusted to say this was... normal? justified? I using a textbook that doesn't justify torture...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 5, 2012

    amazing!

    I read about four books a week, therefore I'm pretty critical. I had hedged as far as buying this book but I'm so glad I bought it. I can't rave enough about it! The details were so well written that I felt that I was there! Afterwards I immediately bought more of Pete Earley's books. Watching some of those "Locked Up' shows on tv are just fluff compared to what I read in this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes true crime, non-fiction type books! Great, great read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    Good Read Recommended

    If you want to learn about the prison system, its a good read.
    If you want to read about violent criminals who have commited unspeakable murders,this is the book. Leavenworth prison is home to these violent criminals. I enjoyed the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Great Book

    Very interesting. Enjoyed every bbit

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2003

    One of the best learning experiences for the field!!

    I was required to read this for my class 'prisons and corrections' at Northeastern University. I was blown away by this book. People love the show Oz, and this book was not only better, but it was all fact. Another reason I'm glad I study Criminal Justice. Perfect for students.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2002

    Very Truthful!

    By being employed with the Bureau of Prisons myself, I have spoken to several inmates who were once in Levenworth. Based on their accounts, as well as my own, this is a truely real introduction into the environment known as the BOP. So many more amazing stories are out there. This book only scratched the surface.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2002

    A true and Accurate portrait of life inside Leavenworth prison.

    This is one of the best books, dealing with life inside prison. This gave me a first hand look at what really incompasses life in prison for an inmate and staff working at Leavenworth.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2002

    Fascinating

    A gripping look inside a place you'd never want to end up in. So behave yourself!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2001

    Excellent insiders account of hard time

    This is an exclusive look at the brutal world of a maximum security federal prison. This is where the most vile monsters of humanity are finally housed. It is an account not only of their daily activities but also of the guards who must work and survive amongst them while maintaining their own humanity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2000

    The finest book about prison is here!!!!!!!!

    If you want to know how prisons work this book is it. The author writes very well about his experience in the 'Hot House.' It is an incredible masterpiece that deserves to be read by criminologists all over the world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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