The Sixteenth Round, by Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

May 17, 2011 at 14:06 (Biography, Book Reviews, Crime and Law Enforcement, Highly Rated Books) (, , , )


It is surprising how an admitted semi-literate boxer from the slums can write so coherently and expressively. What might be interesting on its autobiographical and historical merits alone turns out to be a thrillingly written and skilfully told story, and Rubin Carter pulls no punches in indicting the New Jersey judicial system that hounded him from childhood. Small wonder that this powerful book was so significant in the subsequent drama of his release from prison.

“…because to this critically injured man teetering there on the brink of death, all black people would look the same, especially those the cops had brought in.”

-The Sixteenth Round

The most unfortunate feature in the book is the language. It might be supposed that someone told Carter that to make the reader feel how authentic it was, he should rub their noses in the language of the streets, or the cells, or whatever it might be. At times his fluid descriptions and excellent rhetoric are outright quashed by impressive but unwelcome streams of frothing abuse. Some readers might be glad of this passionate outpouring, but Carter’s fury frequently and destructively gets in the way of the story he is telling. He is an innocent man, but he is still a violent and frightening man, and making his reader fear him is probably the most counter-productive part of this otherwise splendid prison autobiography.


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