Bad: The autobiography of James Carr

The life story of a black panther, prison activist and situationist influenced revolutionary.

Submitted by dendrite303 on December 27, 2018

"When I was nine years old I burned down my school. "

James Carr started fighting when he was very young and never gave up. He was a child prodigy of crime in the streets of l. A. and scourge of half a dozen boys' homes and -reform schools. In his teens he rapidly advanced to bookmaking and armed robbery, a career that was quickly cut short by arrest. In prison he fought harder than ever, and became one of the most notorious rebels in the seething California Penal System.

Becoming best friends with George Jackson in Folsom, they led the notorious wolf Pack, which first fought its way to a position of strength in the prison race war, then, caught up in the radical currents of the 60's, worked to stop the war entirely in order to work solely against the system. Carr was an extreme example of Nietzsche's dictum about what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. He describes in unflinching detail the horrors of prison life-the race riots, murder, rape, and corruption-from the standpoint of one who has overcome them. Carr transformed himself from on openly rebellious con whose actions were self-defeating into a shrewd, thoughtful and impressive person who ultimately engineered his own release.

Out of prison he hooked up with the Black Panthers for a while, but, influenced by the situationists, he broke with them. Just after this book was completed he was tragically gunned down in mysterious circumstances.

Libcom also hosts: Aufheben's review of BAD from 1996.

Content warning: violence, rape.