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.
I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.
I have read several of Barbara Casey’s books including the nonfiction book Kathryn Kelly, so I was happy to read this book. It definitely wasn’t “pleasure reading” but it was interesting and informative. The beginning was a detailed history, a little too detailed for my liking, but that’s just me.
It was obvious that Barbara Casey did a lot of research on Assata Shakur and I was impressed that she just reported the facts and remained neutral throughout the book.
I was a teen in the ’70s and although I had heard of the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panthers, I had never heard of Assata Shakur, which surprised me. Even though I lived through those times, I learned a lot.
Whether she belonged in prison or not, I was shocked at her treatment while in prison. There’s no justification for continued solitary confinement and this is the first time I’ve heard of a woman being kept in a men’s prison. That’s just crazy.
Assata Shakur is an interesting read about a current fugitive who has political asylum in Cuba. I wonder if that will last given our improved relations with Cuba? Barbara Casey did mention that Assata Shakur used to be more out in the open than she is now.
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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