Book Review: “A Time to Die” by Tom Wicker

A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt

By: Tom Wicker


When I first delved into Tom Wicker’s “A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt,” I was a reader with only the most rudimentary understanding of the events of those four days, not to mention the subsequent legal aftermath. In 1971, the inmates of Attica Prison organized an uprising in response to the violations of their rights as American citizens. The conditions of the upstate New York spawned a deadly revolt, the largest in American history.

Written by an official citizen witness allowed within the prison walls during the crisis, the book reads as an intensely detailed account of the atrocities he witnessed first-hand. Questions of race, autonomy, and accountability force you to ask yourself: What actions must people take to be heard in a prison system controlled by those who see them as less than? The book demands its reader to experience the events through the eyes of a bystander, in complete contradiction to “official reports” by lawmakers and prison officials after the fact. There is no better way to learn about this monumental event than through the eyes of someone on the inside.


Review by: Claire Pastrana: Barbara’s Bookstore Bookseller



The essential first hand account of the Attica Prison rebellion, back in print for the 40th anniversary of the uprising

Barbara's Bookstores have been Chicago's independent booksellers since 1963.