Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave by Barbara Casey (Review and Giveaway)

Before reading this book I had no idea who Assata Shakur was. Why was she on the FBI's list of Most Wanted Terrorists and what had she done to get there? This was a sobering book because it shows the struggle of the black community against prejudice and racism.

Book Details:

Book Title: Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave by Barbara Casey
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 210 pages
Genre: Biography/True Crime
Publisher: Strategic Media Books
Release date: February 15, 2017
Tour dates: April 10 to 28, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (There is occasional use of bad language and it deals with crime including killings.)

Book Description:

In May 1973, Assata Olugbala Shakur was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in which she was accused of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and assaulting Trooper James Harper. This resulted in her indictment of first-degree murder of Foerster and seven other felonies related to the shootout. A member of the Black Panther Party, she became a prime target of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Counterintelligence Program. When she joined the Black Liberation Army and went into hiding, between 1973 and 1977, she was placed on the FBI's Most Wanted List for three bank robberies, the kidnapping and murder of two drug dealers, and the attempted murder of two New Jersey police officers.

In March 1977 Assata Shakur was convicted of murdering state trooper Werner Forrester and was imprisoned. Two years later she broke out of the maximum-security wing of Clinton Correctional Facility in New Jersey, pistol in hand, as she and three cohorts sped out of the prison grounds. In 1984 she was granted political asylum in Cuba where she has lived ever since. On May 2, 2013, the FBI added her to the Most Wanted Terrorist List, the first woman to be listed. Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave is the story of Assata Shakur, before she became a fugitive and since.

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My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Before reading this book I had no idea who Assata Shakur was. Why was she on the FBI's list of Most Wanted Terrorists and what had she done to get there? Author Barbara Casey has written a biography on the life of Joanne Chesimard a.k.a. Assata Shakur, who considers herself a Black revolutionary.

While reading this book I was motivated to do research and I learned that Assata is considered a folk hero among the black community because of her continued fight for freedom from the influence of white supremacists. In the 1970s she was part of the Black Liberation Army, who used any means viable for their cause such as robbing banks to support their activities. She was found guilty of the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and sentenced to life, even though she was unarmed. She states she is not guilty of that crime. She escaped to Cuba where she was legitimately granted political asylum and where she still lives.

Barbara Casey covers some of Assata's early life but most of the book is on how she got involved with her political activities and the infamous trial that put her 4 years in a men's prison where she was mistreated, beaten and lived under inhumane conditions before she was found guilty. She was also kept 18 months in solitary confinement. During this time she was also pregnant and gave birth to her daughter. This was one tough woman to have endured such treatment that would have broken a weaker person.

This book was interesting to me because it showed how flawed and racist the American judicial system is and how using violence and hate to fight a corrupt system is no better than the system itself. Those who fought racism and injustice with peace such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. understood that hate begets hate and violence begets violence.

Anyone interested in human rights, the judicial system, the law, political history, and the struggle of the black community would be interested in this book. Barbara Casey has done extensive research and based her information on "federal and state court records and files, FBI memoranda and documents, secret service files, police records, and information in the media." She includes a bibliography and an index that is helpful.

This book is a good study of a very controversial and infamous case that could become once again a headliner now that USA has restored some diplomatic relations with Cuba and wants Assata returned.

To read more reviews, please visit Barbara Casey's page on iRead Book Tours. 

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

About the Author:

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her previous nonfiction true crime work, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant for independent publishers and writers, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author: Website

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  1. What an interesting read! True crime stories are fascinating!

    1. They really are, Janet. I had always written fiction until I did some research on Kathryn Kelly, the wife of Machine Gun Kelly. That was my first nonfiction true crime book, and I found I really enjoyed doing the research. This book about Assata Shakur was a challenge to write on so many levels, but she is such an interesting person. Thank you for commenting.


  2. Laura,

    Thank you so much for your review of my latest nonfiction book, ASSATA SHAKUR: A 20TH CENTURY ESCAPED SLAVE. This is a story of a complex woman living during complex times. What is amazing is that even after all this time, she continues to have literally thousands of supporters from around the world. Even though she has all but disappeared from the public, her voice continues to be heard.

    As always, I appreciate your time and your thoughtful comments.

    My best,


  3. I had no idea who this person was. Thanks for sharing!

    1. We will probably be hearing more about her as time goes on. The State of New Jersey and the federal government are determined to extradite her back to the United States. And with the $2 million bounty on her head, plots seem to be formed daily on how to capture her. It is such an amazing story. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  4. This does sound fascinating. I'm surprised I have not heard of her before.

    1. It is so good to hear from you, Mary. Thank you for following my tour. I think we will be hearing a lot more about Assata in the future. She is a folk hero from another time for so many, yet she continues to make an impact on society today.


  5. I hope you get a chance to read it, Elena. Good luck on winning the giveaway.


  6. Never heard of this woman before. I love to find out about new books and authors to read. Thanks for the opportunity.

    1. Madonna, I hope you get a chance to read ASSATA SHAKUR: A 20TH CENTURY ESCAPED SLAVE. You will be seeing more of her in the news as our government works toward getting her extradited from Cuba. Thank you for your comment.


Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback.

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