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December 1969

A Thief's Primer.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;21(6):762-763. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740240122017

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There are a number of interesting and exciting aspects to this book. Primarily, it does achieve the author's purpose of humanizing the "criminal," and making some sense of what seems to be a meaningless existence. Through the eyes of Sam, a man "who makes his living completely outside of the law. . ." one is able to gain a feeling for the language, outlook, perspective, and thinking of a typical criminal. The frame of reference is enlarged by referring to the author's and criminals' (other than Sam) criticisms of Sam's remarks.

The text is essentially divided into three parts. The introduction gives enlightening background information on prisons, criminals, and Sam. A second major aspect is the attention given to definitions which pervade the book and are particularly outlined in a separate chapter. The faithfulness of the language and detailed descriptions of Sam's criminal experiences give a feeling of realism

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