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Summary

A jaw-dropping account of life as a prison officer in one of the country's most notorious jails. 

Neil ‘Sam’ Samworth spent 11 years working as a prison officer in HMP Manchester, aka Strangeways. A tough Yorkshireman with a soft heart, Sam had to deal with it all - gangsters and gangbangers, terrorists and psychopaths, addicts and the mentally ill. Men who should not be locked up and men who should never be let out. 

Strangeways is a shocking and at times darkly funny account of life in a high-security prison. Sam tackles cell fires and self-harmers and goes head to head with some of the most dangerous men in the country. He averts a Christmas Day riot after turkey is taken off the menu and replaced by fish curry and stands up to officers who abuse their position. He describes being attacked by prisoners and reveals the problems caused by radicalisation and the drugs flooding our prisons. 

As staffing cuts saw Britain’s prison system descend into crisis, the stress of the job - the suicides, the inhumanity of the system and one assault too many - left Sam suffering from PTSD. This raw, searingly honest memoir is a testament to the men and women of the prison service and the incredibly difficult job we ask them to do.

©2018 Neil Samworth (P)2018 W. F. Howes Ltd

What members say

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Adam Davies

Good insight into the prison system and what the officers actually go through. Being an officer is basically being a serving prisoner as they witness and have to deal with everything. A good book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story, well worth a listen.

When it started and the author began reading, I thought god this is going to be a train wreck. Accent aside, he really isn't a book narrator. When the proper narrator took over I breathed a sigh of relief.
It's a good chronicle of Sam's life as a screw and how it ultimately affected him and his family.
My only criticism of the narrator is the lack of a pause between the last sentence and introducing the next chapter.

Well worth a listen or a read.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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100% Solid

This is real. The total reverse of what the media tell us about prison. Very well narrated.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Eye-opening

A riveting account of life as a prison officer. well written and well read, with occasional touches of humour in what is very gritty story. It has enlightened me on the prison service. Being a wimp, I found the section on prisoners who self-harm a bit difficult, but it is important to hear it.

I found suggestions on how to improve the prison service particularly interesting. it was also nice to hear the author's actual voice at the beginning and at the end of the book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Had Me Laughing Out Loud

Not often a book has me laughing out loud but this one did. Great choice of narrator he did a brilliant job. It really made me appreciate what a difference a good narrator makes. No offence to Mr Samworth but I dont know if I could have made it past the forward if he had read further than that. Great insight into the life of a prison officer, that shows they are only human and there is a person underneath the uniform

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A must read!

One of the best books I've heard, very well told story which is very honest!

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  • robert
  • london, United Kingdom
  • 20-09-18

Interesting, but very one sided

Very interesting account of what goes on behind bars, but I take some of what the author says with a pinch of salt regarding his own conduct. I don't believe the drugged tea on New Year's Eve story for a start. He just went out on the piss and pulled a sickie.

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Brilliant

I can't commend this highly enough, it's gripping reading. A MUST READ. A real life story for a real world.

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Grim

Coincidentally, prison officers had a strike today (14/09/2018) although they called it 'a protest' - it's clear that prisons aren't working for anyone. I found this book riveting - if you've got any interest at all in the British prison system, this insider view HAS to be worth a listen. Corruption and horror aren't limited to places 'far away' like the Bangkok Hilton or wherever. Of course, the Political Classes won't acknowledge this reality; to them everything smells of paint.

And well done to the author for writing this and lifting the lid. I can only hope it goes some way to helping reform the broken system...although I won't get my hopes up

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Brilliant!

I wasn't sure about this book but I enjoyed every word. It's not my normal choice of book however it is a real insight into the British prison system. A must have listen.