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On the Rock: Twenty-Five Years in Alcatraz : the Prison Story of Alvin Karpis as told to robert Livesey (Englisch) Taschenbuch – November 2008

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 26 Rezensionen
12 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Life on the Rock 9. August 2003
Von Jason Robey - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Ever wonder what it would be like to do time in Alcatraz? To live behind bars with some of the most notorious gangsters that ever lived? If so, then "On the Rock" is definitely your book.
Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, a former Public Enemy Number One who spent 26 years at Alcatraz, tells us firsthand what it was like. The reader is given an insider's perspective on every prison fight, strike and attempted breakout that occurred at Alcatraz between 1936 and 1962. Karpis had strong opinions about his fellow inmates, like "Machine Gun" Kelly ("a bullsh*tter"), Robert "The Birdman" Stroud ("a b*stard") and Al "Scarface" Capone ("completely insane"). It's a gritty story told with a fair share of gangster lingo and foul language. Karpis was quite a character, very intelligent and completely remorseless, and his personality comes through - raw and unfiltered - in "On the Rock". If you have even a passing interest in gangsters or prison life, you won't be disappointed.
13 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Better than Dillinger 15. August 2009
Von Ryan C. Holiday - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
If you were pulled in by Public Enemies - which I think is one of the best pieces of non-fiction I've read - the next step is to learn about Alvin Karpis. Karpis, who was given decent coverage in Burrough's book, easily beats out Dillinger in terms of reading material. He was the only public enemy of the era to escape a FBI massacre and he ended up doing 25 years at Alcatraz. There, he met the Birdman, watched Al Copone slowly die of syphilis, aided in the only successful prisoner escape and taught a creepy kid named Charlie Manson how to play the guitar.

You can't read about these guys' lives without getting the sense that so much of what we know about history is ridiculously skewed towards what's relatable and 'feels good.' It's difficult to wrap your head around the fact that in the middle of the 20th century the only way the government could keep people from escaping from prison was to put them on a rocky island in the middle of the ocean. Or that the United States was such a small and crazy place that a bank robber like Alvin Karpis would have played poker in Missouri with a backwoods Senator named Harry Truman. And though this all seems like it happened a long time ago, you have to remember that Karpis served his time, lived for a decade on the outside off the proceeds of his bestselling book and didn't die until 1979.
7 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Super Star at the Super-Prison 13. Juni 2002
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Alvin Karpis is the only man to survive earning the sobriquet "public enemy #1". After a whirlwind time as one of the most infamous outlaws in the lawless days of the1930s, Karpis was captured alive and sent to Alcatraz. His twenty-five years in America's first super-prison is the subject of this memoir.
Built as the government's answer to the 1930's wave of kidnappings and bank-robberies, Alcatraz was to be an escape-proof prison housing only the elite of the criminal world. It was certainly proof that 'crime doesn't pay' especially for the American taxpayers.
Karpis' memoires of his life on the rock showcase his amazing memory and are full of his experieces with the infamous residents of the super-prision. He either has a photograpich memory or his ghost-writer did a great deal of research.
While this is an interesting and informative book, rest assured that Karpis spends a great deal of time making sure that he always presents himself in the most favorable light even if the truth has to suffer.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A Rare Find 16. August 2012
Von Mike H - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Anyone interested in reading about old school gangsters -- as opposed to this generation's wannabe "gangstas" -- and prison life in general, will find this the best book you've probably never heard of. As opposed to a flowery biography, former Public Enemy Number One Alvin Karpis recounts his life through Robert Livesey and expounds on his acquaintances in Alcatraz and the underworld with a matter-of-fact voice that rings true. While one may question whether to accept everything Karpis recounts as the gospel truth, it certainly comes across as genuine. I've lived in Reno my whole life and was blown away by what Karpis had to say about its underworld characters and their interaction with him and Baby Face Nelson, many tales I had heard from numerous sources over the years.
I've always known people on the other side of the law, and Karpis comes across as genuine to me -- his prison argot and mores are spot-on. Obviously, Karpis was as far away from an angel as one could get. One can read between the lines as to what crimes he did and didn't commit. His insights and stories from inside "The Rock" are as unique as it gets. He is honest about his feelings -- sociopathy, homosexuality (while on the inside) and all -- and anyone who knows people who have done real time in real prisons will recognize and appreciate the not-made-for-Hollywood language (which is not ridiculously profane) with which he communicates. He's even-handed in his descriptions of prison guards and wardens and doesn't make himself out to be a hero. Characters such as Al Capone, Doc Barker, "Machine Gun Kelly" and just about all of the cons who attempted escape are fleshed out in inimitable detail, and myths surrounding Robert Stroud ("The Bird Man of Alcatraz") are dispelled. The narrative is as quick-reading as a runaway train.
There is probably nowhere as boring and dangerous and less desirable to be than prison. But "The Rock" was a place all its own. Read about the time of silence, "the Dungeon," "Broadway" and other places as described by one who lived there nearly for nearly 26 years. No reader could be disappointed.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Public Enemy Number 1 9. Dezember 2013
Von Traveling Hobo - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Back in the 1930s J. Edgar Hoover's FBI named only four men to ever hold the title of Public Enemy Number 1. Three were Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and John Dillinger, and all three died in gun battles. The fourth, however, was perhaps lucky and instead of being ambushed by the FBI was apprehended and taken to Alcatraz. This man's name - Alvin Karpis (aka Creepy). Karpis was a colorful character who robbed banks mainly in the Midwest, and was not afraid to shoot, with the intent to kill, his way out of trouble. He ran with the Ma Barker Gang and was associated with many underworld figures. After being captured, and sentenced to "life" in Alcatraz, he ultimately served more than twenty-five years there. He was within the first few hundred prisoners ever sentenced to serve his time there, and was relocated to another prison only shortly before the prison closed. The book focuses on Alcatraz and the time Karpis served there, the cons Karpis befriended, the brutality of prison officials, the sexual perversity that went on there, and much much more. It is a telling account and an extremely interesting read. This book clarified some things for me. For example, the escape attempts (there were many) are discussed in detail and often times Karpis was a part of these. The most famous escape master-minded by Frank Morris, was glorified in 'Escape from Alcatraz" starring Clint Eastwood in the 1970s. The movie shows Morris and the Anglin brothers digging their way out the back wall of their cells with spoons and butter knifes. Even today if you tour Alcatraz the pamphlets we buy tell us that these men dug out of their cells with spoons stolen from the mess hall. When in all actuality Alcatraz was in the process of installing new toilets in the cells and their were jack hammers used in this work. Well Morris and three other men used these jack hammers to knock through the concrete at the back of their cell walls. They didn't use spoons! However, the prison administrators were to embarrassed to admit how these cons actually escaped. Also the infamous Birdman of Alcatraz, never actually has birds in Alcatraz. He served time in solitary confinement for many, many years at Leavenworth Prison, and this is where he had his birds. When relocated to Alcatraz he was not allowed to have any birds. I also learned that Al Capone was incarcerated within the walls of Alcatraz in the very beginning. This I knew, however, I did not know that he was thoughtful and intelligent and spent a great deal of time playing musical instruments. It was discovered that Capone had syphilis and he was offered treatment, a painful but probable cure. He refused this treatment, and that decision caused him to eventually go insane. In the end, Karpis was actually paroled and deported to Canada. He spent his remaining days soaking up the sun in Spain, and running around with women much younger than he. I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in true crime, or if you want to know more about Alcatraz.
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