The Prison Diary of A C Barrington: Dissent and Conformity in Wartime New Zealand
John Pratt (with an introduction by John Barrington)
Otago University Press, $40.00,
When did you last think about being in prison? Not the theory of prisons – punitive or corrective, state-run or privatised, moral issue or law and order policy plank – but the day-to-day reality? How you eat, sleep, wash, read? Your cell, your bedding, the clothes, food, sanitation, smell, noise, rules, guards, boredom, indignity, the weird conjunction of enforced loneliness and enforced single-gender communality? That’s the disturbing essence of this remarkable book, which is also, as its subtitle announces, an informative analysis of the wider significance of a unique document. It brings to attention something that society prefers to keep out of sight and out of mind. It also makes us reassess New Zealand’s WWII history and ongoing moral consciousness.
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