NYT: Prison Officials Remove Ban on Attica Book, Except for 2 Crucial Pages

By Benjamin Weiser

Aug. 1, 2022

New York officials are cutting and inserting pages in a book about the state’s most notorious prison in an attempt to resolve a festering First Amendment dispute.

The historian Heather Ann Thompson won acclaim for her Pulitzer Prize-winning “Blood in the Water,” a deeply reported investigation into the deadly 1971 Attica uprising and its legacy. But since the book’s publication in 2016, one group had been forbidden from reading it: people incarcerated at the Attica Correctional Facility and other New York state prisons. Ms. Thompson sued in March, seeking to reverse the ban…CONTINUED



On September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions during the four long days and nights that followed.

On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed thirty-nine men–hostages as well as prisoners–and severely wounded more than one hundred others. In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners. And, ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath and neglecting to provide support to the survivors and the families of the men who had been killed.

Drawing from more than a decade of extensive research, historian Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on every aspect of the uprising and its legacy, giving voice to all those who took part in this forty-five-year fight for justice: prisoners, former hostages, families of the victims, lawyers and judges, and state officials and members of law enforcement. Blood in the Water is the searing and indelible account of one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century.


Weiser, Benjamin. “New York Prison Officials Clip Map From Banned Book on Attica Riot – The New York Times” Nytimes, 1 Aug. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/01/nyregion/attica-book-ban-blood-in-the-water.html. Accessed 1 Jan. 1970.

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