Reviews for In the Sanctuary of Outcasts : A Memoir

Booklist Reviews 2009 May #1
*Starred Review* White was a successful magazine publisher in 1993 when he was convicted of fraud and check kiting and sentenced to prison in Carville, Louisiana. He knew he was facing 18 months without his wife and two young children; he knew his enormous ego and ambition had landed him in prison; he knew he had to figure out a way to save his marriage and somehow rebound financially. What he didn't know was that the isolated 100-year-old facility at Carville was home to a leper colony of 130 patients. He learned that the patients (some severely disfigured and disabled) and the 250 inmates eyed each other suspiciously across the corridors and breezeway, each thinking the other was the scourge of the earth. Because his work detail brought him into frequent contact with the patients, White developed strong relationships with them. His favorite was Ella, a dignified and beatific elderly black woman, who had lived at Carville for more than 50 years. Among the inmates, White encountered counterfeiters and tax evaders along with drug traffickers and carjackers. When the Bureau of Prisons decided to evict the leprosy patients, tensions built on both sides. White, near the end of his sentence and struggling to come to grips with the consequences of his crime, is caught in the middle. He offers a memoir of personal transformation and a thoroughly engaging look at the social, economic, racial, and other barriers that separate individuals that harden, dissolve, and reconfigure themselves when people are involuntarily thrust together over long periods. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 May #2
An ex-con gains wisdom after doing time at a prison doubling as the last leper colony in America.White's trouble began when he started kiting checks for his newspaper business, the Oxford Times. Investor confidence misled him into proliferating more illicit activities. After surviving a bankruptcy, he began to assemble a "media dynasty" when an audit by the FDIC resulted in a conviction of bank fraud in 1992. Sentenced to Louisiana's Carville minimum-security prison, he left behind wife Linda and two young children in Mississippi. While at Carville, White became educated on the damaging stigma of leprosy--now more commonly referred to as Hansen's disease--since the prison also houses a leper colony. With felons integrated alongside the sick, the author admits to being initially repulsed ("I didn't want to breathe the air") but soon discovered how the afflicted live out their lives not only with misshapen or missing limbs that seemingly "disappear" from their bodies, but "plagued by lore, innuendo, and rumor" by the outside world. Dismissing rules against fraternization, White befriended Ella, a spunky African-American woman, wheelchair-bound with nearly 70 years spent at Carville. Initial visits from his wife and children proved strained, confusing and painful; as the months progressed, the family's financial situation became dire as well. White recounts his courtship of Linda ("just about perfect"), their marriage and the lies and deception that destroyed their family. After much speculation about whether his marriage would survive the prison term--it didn't--White realized that as a Carville inmate, he'd become just as much of an outcast as the leprosy patients. Those harsh realities are leavened with tender, humorous asides derived from the many dynamic Carville residents he encountered before his surprising release one year later.An earnest chronicle written with equal parts enlightenment and atonement.Author appearances in New Orleans, Birmingham, Ala., Jackson, Miss., Oxford, Miss. Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 April #4

Following conviction for bank fraud, White spent a year in a minimum-security prison in Carville, La., housed in the last leper colony in mainland America. His fascinating memoir reflects on the sizable group of lepers living alongside the prisoners, social outcasts among the motley inmate crew of drug dealers, mob types and killers. Narrating in colorful, entertaining snapshots, White introduces the reader to an excellent supporting cast in his imprisonment: Father Reynolds, the peerless spiritual monk; Mr. Flowers, the no-nonsense case manager; Anne, the sorrowful mother with leprosy whose baby was taken from her arms; and Ella the Earth Mother, with wisdom to spare. Brisk, ironic and perceptive, White's introspective memoir puts a magnifying glass to a flawed life, revealing that all of life is to be savored and respected. (June)

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