Dannemora by Charles Gardner

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: This was a hell of a lot more like Shawshank than I expected.

Quick synopsis: The prison escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat from New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility in 2015.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Seriously, it’s just like Shawshank! The two guys dug out of their rooms, covered the holes, and then got out through the prison. There was more digging involved. Also, neither of these scumbags was innocent like poor Andy.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: I didn’t realize how many prisons were in northern New York. There is a lot and they are not far from each other. I always picture prisons as off in the middle of a forest, not clustered together.

My Take: Charles Gardner is a former correctional officer and he has an ax to grind. And boy, does he!

Luckily, he is given the perfect opportunity to air his grievances with the escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat. Both of them are terrible human beings. One murdered a state trooper, the other an old man (who went out of this life like a BOSS). You will not like either of these guys, but you will have to admit they have some ingenuity.

Add into this story an overworked and underfunded prison system, a civilian woman with few morals, and a governor who the author really hates.

Gardner doesn’t look down on all his subjects though. As a local who lived through the manhunt, he takes the time to explain the lay of the land and compliment the great people and law enforcement during the manhunt.

The book is very informative, flows well, and let’s just say the end is satisfying.

Verdict: Good book and a fun read.

If You Liked This Try (prison break edition):

  • Neal Bascomb, The Escape Artists
  • Candice Millard, Hero of the Empire
  • Hampton Sides, Ghost Soldiers
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Dannemora by Charles Gardner
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