The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison

The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison

by Pete Earley
4.4 27

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Overview

The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison by Pete Earley

A stunning account of life behind bars at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, where the nation’s hardest criminals do hard time.
 
“A page-turner, as compelling and evocative as the finest novel. The best book on prison I’ve ever read.”—Jonathan Kellerman
 
The most dreaded facility in the prison system because of its fierce population, Leavenworth is governed by ruthless clans competing for dominance. Among the “star” players in these pages: Carl Cletus Bowles, the sexual predator with a talent for murder; Dallas Scott, a gang member who has spent almost thirty of his forty-two years behind bars; indomitable Warden Robert Matthews, who put his shoulder against his prison’s grim reality; Thomas Silverstein, a sociopath confined in “no human contact” status since 1983; “tough cop” guard Eddie Geouge, the only officer in the penitentiary with the authority to sentence an inmate to “the Hole”; and William Post, a bank robber with a criminal record going back to when he was eight years old—and known as the “Catman” for his devoted care of the cats who live inside the prison walls.
 
Pete Earley, celebrated reporter and author of Family of Spies, all but lived for nearly two years inside the primordial world of Leavenworth, where he conducted hundreds of interviews. Out of this unique, extraordinary access comes the riveting story of what life is actually like in the oldest maximum-security prison in the country.
 
Praise for The Hot House
 
“Reporting at its very finest.”Los Angeles Times
 
“The book is a large act of courage, its subject an important one, and . . . Earley does it justice.”The Washington Post Book World
 
“[A] riveting, fiercely unsentimental book . . . To [Earley’s] credit, he does not romanticize the keepers or the criminals. His cool and concise prose style serves him well. . . . This is a gutsy book.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Harrowing . . . an exceptional work of journalism.”Detroit Free Press
 
“If you’re going to read any book about prison, The Hot House is the one. . . . It is the most realistic, unbuffed account of prison anywhere in print.”Kansas City Star
 
“A superb piece of reporting.”—Tom Clancy

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307808318
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/09/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 14,889
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Pete Earley is a storyteller who has penned seventeen books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Hot House and Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. After a fourteen-year career in journalism, including six years at The Washington Post, Earley became a full-time author with a commitment to exposing the stories that entertain and surprise.

Customer Reviews

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The Hot House 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
tattooedmommie More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an older title but absolutely fascinating. The book includes a lot of information about the criminals from Cuba when they flooded into the US in the 1980's. This was riveting for me because at the time I lived in th Keys and saw first hand the damage that happened because of their arrival. Included are tales of various criminals and the evil that they have committed in prison and before being arrested. Although this is a dated book, so much is still happening. Highly recommended. This book deserves an A++++++++  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book can't wait to read next one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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?
Cylix More than 1 year ago
Not what I expected but an ok read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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...
marinac1 More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting. Enjoyed every bbit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A gripping look inside a place you'd never want to end up in. So behave yourself!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.