"Wicker's story though could not be more vital today& A Time To Die compels us to understand the inhumanity of prisons in America, one of the greatest injustices of our time, and of a state that has no compunction about murdering prisoners and jailers alike. Think Attica forty years ago, think Pelican Bay today. Then act."—Michael Ratner, president, Center for Constitutional Rights
"[A Time to Die's] lessons about the racist underpinnings of mass incarceration, about the cynical politics that determine life-or-death decisions, and about the conditions that deny prisoners their basic humanity—are as relevant today as when it was first published."—Liliana Segura, associate editor, The Nation
"A powerful book."—Anthony Lewis for New York Times
In September 1971 the inmates of Attica prison revolted, took hostages, and forced the authorities into four days of desperate negotiation. At the outset the rebels demanded—and were granted—the presence of a group of observers to act as unofficial mediators. Tom Wicker, then the associate editor of The New York Times, was one of those summoned. In four crucial days, he learned more, saw more, and felt more than in most of the rest of his life. In the end, a police attack was launched, and as a result dozens of prisoners, as well as prison employees, were killed.
Tom Wicker, a former reporter, Washington bureau chief, and columnist for The New York Times, is the author of several books, including On the Record. He lives in Rochester, Vermont.