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30 Years in the Hole

30 years

30 Years Behind Bars: Trials of a Prison Doctor by Karen Gedney, M.D. (DRG Consulting Company, $14.95, 384 pages)

30 Years Behind Bars: Trials of a Prison Doctor is an engaging and seemingly highly factual account of the work of a prison physician. I say this because I worked for doctors in a state’s prison system. As Doctor Karen Gedney makes abundantly clear, one never knows what one will encounter each day behind bars. One day inside a prison may be as quiet and reserved as a Catholic mass. The next day, all hell can, and will, break out.

Dr. Gedney intended to work for just four years under the National Health Corps in order to pay back her medical school scholarship. But the work was so fascinating to her that she stayed for three full decades. And she saw it as her mission to not just treat physical medical issues but also hearts and minds: “It was clear to me that as long as these men viewed themselves as victims, they had little chance of doing well on the outside. I had to help them perceive themselves not as victims, but as people who had what it takes to be responsible for the choices they made in life.”

And so, Dr. Gedney wound up bringing life skills classes to a high-security prison. An intriguing twist in her story is that Gedney, who is white, has a husband who is African-American. He wound up working with her to develop classes for inmates, the type intended to provide them with a “second chance.”

Dr. Gedney’s perspective is best summarized in these words: “I was always a sucker for the underdog.”

Of course,  no good deed goes unpunished, so Gedney often had to deal with wardens who either did not support her rehabilitation efforts or dismantled them. Even physicians are bound by the chains of bureaucracy. Luckily for Gedney, she encountered inmate success stories, such as the inmate she assisted who received a pardon after serving fifty years in prison. “Fifty years in prison. How does one survive that so well? How did he manage to walk out with confidence, into a world that was so different than the one he knew?”

Sometimes Dr. Gedney gets a bit too deep into attempting to cure the world as when she states: “The only thing that made sense to me was trying to gain an understanding of why someone commits a crime, and what could be done to prevent or stop the behavior.” Some would argue that this mission is not the role of a doctor in the correctional system. And this raises the one issue with 30 Years Behind Bars. At times, it becomes a political polemic, and this can distract from the story of Dr. Gedney’s medical career. And I suspect that it may, to some extent, limit the audience for the book.

Dr. Gedney might have avoided the sections of the book that deal with changing the system and the world. But then it would not have been her true account.

Well recommended.

Joseph Arellano

This book is available as an eBook and as a trade paperback book.

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Win Dark Deceptions

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Books, we have 5 (five) copies of Dark Deceptions by Dee Davis to give away.   This is a Forever novel, just released on April 1, 2010, and rated as a 4-star book at Amazon.   Here is a quick synopsis:

Covert operations expert Nash Brennon has spent the last eight years trying to forget Annie Gallagher, his former field partner and the only woman he has ever loved.   Annie betrayed him when he needed her the most, then vanished without a trace.   Now suddenly she’s back in the game – as a suspected traitor and threat to the national security.

Annie’s son has been kidnapped by political terrorists.   The price for his life?   The assassination of a U.N. ambassador.

This is a unique suspense romance thriller.   “…(a) page turning, white knuckle, romantic thriller.”   ReadertoReader.com  

Dark Deceptions was delightful!” wrote a reader at the Barnes and Noble website.

“Don’t miss any book by Dee Davis.”   Christina Skye

“Dee Davis is at the top of her game.”   Mariah Stewart

In order to enter this book giveaway, just post a comment here or send an e-mail with the heading Dark Deceptions to Josephsreviews@gmail.com.   Make sure to include an e-mail address where you can be reached in case you are one of the 5 winners of Dark Deceptions.   This will count as one entry.

In order to enter a second time, please tell us what you think about digital “e-books”.   Would you read a book on a Kindle (Amazon) or a Nook (Barnes and Noble) or a Sony Reader?   On an Apple iPad?   As a download onto your PC?   Why or why not?   Your answer will count as a second entry.

You must live in the United States or Canada to enter and have a valid residential address.   Books cannot be mailed to a P.O. box.   The deadline for entries is 12:00 midnight PST on Wednesday, May 26, 2010.   If your name is drawn by Munchy the cat as a winner, you will be sent an e-mail message and you will need to respond with your residential address within 72 hours.  

This is it for the contest rules.   Good luck and good reading!

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