Category Archives: Book Reviews

Free Mumia!

Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USAJailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USA by Mumia Abu-Jamal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been incarcerated since I have been born. That is in itself a powerful statement. This man has not been “outside” all my life.

I have been active in prisoner’s rights programs in Japan for the last 8 years, and have learned a lot from my peers inside. I have learned that the prison system in Japan is no different from where Mumia and other political prisoners are being held in, and in some cases, worse. I have the highest respect for jailhouse lawyers who go out of their way to protect those inside, even if such actions may lead to themselves be persecuted by the system.

Safiya Bukhari, one of the founders of the Jericho prisoner’s rights movement was an avid supporter of Mumia until she moved on to the next world. Safiya and Mumia have taught me many things, but one thing is for sure: Political prisoners only exist in foreign states. The United States, China, Japan, any state has political prisoners, and yet none will consider its own a political prisoner. Before the US or Japan can talk to China about it imprisoning people based on religion/political values, the US and Japan need to recollect on their own incarcerated population, and release all prisoners that have been imprisoned for solely political reasons.

Recently a criminal defendant was acquitted by the Tokyo High Court, and released. Immediately the victim’s relatives and lawyer cried foul. There are too many cases in Japan and elsewhere where people are automatically considered guilty just because they were arrested and said to be guilty by the criminal investigation.

Personally, I do not care if Mumia killed the officer in question, or not. That is not the case right now. The issue is that he has been getting selective inhumane treatment by the correctional authorities, and has not been allowed a fair trial as such enumerated in the US Constitution. Mumia Abu-Jamal did not get a fair trial, there are numerous contradictory statements by witnesses, and there have been international support for a retrial and/or release. He has recently been taken off death row and redelegated to life in prison w/o parole.

I strongly recommend anyone to read “Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USA” by Mumia Abu-Jamal (City Lights Books, 2009) but especially for those aspiring lawyers out there. Lawyering is not about being a high-roller in Wall Street corporate law. Lawyering is about protecting those in need without even thinking about the crap that you will have to deal with in doing so.

Mumia Abu-Jamal continues to give me strength in fighting the ills of society, and he is always in my prayers.

View all my reviews

Advertisements

Prison, Weed and Americana: A Krassner Primer

Who's to Say What's Obscene?: Politics, Culture, and Comedy in America TodayWho’s to Say What’s Obscene?: Politics, Culture, and Comedy in America Today by Paul Krassner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Who’s to Say What’s Obscene?: Politics, Culture, and Comedy in America Today” is a book of satirical comedy. And the funniest part about it are the trust bits. “Trashing the right to read” is one such chapter. Books are routinely censored in prisons all over the world, and fairly rigorously in Japan as well. Krassner’s article let me have laughs about how real such inane behavior is by Justice authorities.

Many of Krassner’s books are already out of print. I could not find a copy of “The Best of the Realist” the last time I checked. “Who’s to Say What’s Obscene?: Politics, Culture, and Comedy in America Today” is a good primer that is easy to get your hands on to get a quick laugh on Prison, Weed, and Americana.

View all my reviews

Michael Woodford: Exposure

Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I Went from CEO to WhistleblowerExposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower by Michael Woodford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Highly recommended. The initial publishing of a Japanese book on Woodford’s exposure was rather unconvincing, but this English version seems to have a more personal touch. It is extremely exciting to read, if you are interested in how Japanese business culture unfolds…

View all my reviews

How Safiya Bukhari changed my life.

The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison, and Fighting for Those Left BehindThe War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison, and Fighting for Those Left Behind by Safiya Bukhari
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If there was one book that changed my life, it is this. I was lost in my life the mid-2000s, and had lived until then for my own personal gains. I found a review for this book in the Brooklyn Rail sometime in 2006, and decided to give it a try. Reading this book and learning what really happened to the freedom fighters, and Safiya’s lifelong fight for those left behind, I was violently shook awaken. It was from then, that I began to fight the system, regardless of who I was going against. I have fought a battle with the Japanese Ministry of Justice for close to 8 years now, as well as various administrative tyrants that I have encountered in everyday life. If it wasn’t for Safiya, I would not be in university right now, applying to a JD / PhD program next year. If it wasn’t for Safiya, I would have been dead by now due to drug use, homicide, or suicide. I owe what I have to Safiya, and what she left, the fight where we have picked up to continue.

Thank you Safiya. You are my savior.

PS:
My pen name is from a quote of Safiya, from an essay in this book.

“We seem to have forgotten everything we ever learned about revolution: that it’s about the people. It’s about making qualitative and quantitative changes in the conditions of our people.”
— Safiya Bukhari

Delta = Change
Q = Qualitative
Q = Quantitative

Delta Q x Q = Delta Q Squared

View all my reviews