The Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison

Category: Book
By (author): Hedges, Chris
Subject:  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Editors, Journalists, Publishers
  NON-FICTION / General
Publisher: Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Published: October 2021
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 272
Size: 8.25in x 5.50in
Our Price:
$ 32.00
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

"This book could change everything. It could change our minds. It could buttress our hearts. It could make graspable why today's prisons are contemporary slave plantations. I couldn't put it down and I tried." -Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

A haunting and powerfully moving book that gives voice to the poorest among us and lays bare the cruelty of a penal system that too often defines their lives.

In this unforgettable work, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, who brought us War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and America, the Farewell Tour, provides an intimate and moving look at the lives of the students he teaches in a maximum-security prison. He and twenty-eight students (who together are serving a combined sentence of 515 years) read and discussed plays by Amiri Baraka, John Herbert, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Miguel Piñeroand August Wilson, among others. Together they set out to write an original play drawing on their experiences of poverty, institutionalized racism, police brutality and mass incarceration. (Their play, Caged, would eventually perform to sold-out audiences and be published as a book in 2020).
In The Class, the men-some of whom know they will die in prison-give voice to the struggles of grief, shame, injustice, guilt and generational trauma they and their families have endured, as well as to their hopes and dreams. Hedges chronicles with heart-breaking intimacy the emotional struggle for artistic expression that leads to self-awareness, transformation and redemption. The Class is at once a story of creative triumph and a scorching critique of the racialized poverty that plagues North America and what it does to the most vulnerable.

Review Quote*


"Chris Hedges is the greatest radical writer and journalist of our generation! His courage and consistency are legendary! I shall never forget our teaching together at Rahway prison or our meetings with the greats Mumia Abu-Jamal and James Cone at Mahanoy prison. This magnificent book confirms his grand stature!" -Cornel West, author of Race Matters
"This book could change everything. It could change our minds. It could buttress our hearts.  It could make graspable why today's prisons are contemporary slave plantations. I couldn't put it down and I tried." -Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple
"Chris Hedges opens the door for the long-buried talents of the incarcerated. In turn, they open the door to a new and valuable perspective for us all." -Tom Fontana, Emmy Award-winning creator of "Oz"


"[E]loquent, detailed and devastating." -James McEnteer, Dissident Voice

"Chris Hedges is perhaps today's most important public intellectual, and America, The Farewell Tour is perhaps his most important book. If we as a society are able to move past our current ‘sickness unto death,' as Kierkegaard put it, it will be in great measure thanks to books like this one." -Derrick Jensen, author of The Culture of Make Believe

"[U]nexpectedly moving, not simply because [Hedges] is most likely correct about how the final act will play out, but also because in the face of such unrelenting darkness, he is still trying to shed some light." -Dorothy Woodend, The Tyee

"Chris Hedges, the realist and no-holds-barred award winning journalist and war correspondent gives us the full antidote to Trump's and other politicians' fantasies and sugarcoating of what Americans are experiencing in this inverted home of the free. Hedges walks you through the reality of this ‘other America' [and] blows away the insidious incense of the pontificating plutocrats and their toady oligarchs." -Ralph Nader, Common Dreams

"Chris Hedges is one of a kind-a lone, furious voice crying in the wilderness of our national and global collapse. . . . An equal opportunity iconoclast with a voluminous knowledge of political theory, geo-global politics and traditional Western liberalism, Hedges relentlessly digs beneath the outcroppings of our moral and social decay, and his latest book is a corker: A searing analysis of the consequences of a decade-long assault on civic society by the neoliberal forces of late-stage capitalism. No mere abstractionist, Hedges-a war reporter who has witnessed empire collapse first-hand-travels to ground zero of America's decay and disenfranchisement, taking an intimate look at US communities ravaged by poverty, addiction, unemployment and pervasive hatred. This book pulls no punches. It's a hard but necessary read, and we dare not avert our eyes from Hedges's prognosis." -Rick Levin, Eugene Weekly

Biographical Note

CHRIS HEDGES spent nearly two decades reporting in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. After fifteen years at the New York Times, he now writes a weekly column for the online magazine Truthdig. His bestselling books include America, the Farewell Tour, Empire of Illusion, Death of the Liberal Class and his classic War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. He is married to the Canadian actor Eunice Wong. They live in Princeton.