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The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict is not a book for those who want to be mindlessly entertained. The complex narrative and scattered methodology of literary description takes time, patience and thought in order to understand Austin Reed’s message. However for those who are willing, Austin Reed writes an informative experience on racial prejudice in New York during the pre to post – civil war era. The significance of the book only contributes to interest, particularly, how the narrative came to life. The manuscript was in fact written by Austin Reed later in his lifetime, but was only recovered and authenticated in the last decade, making it one of alarmingly few surviving documents describing the treatment of blacks outside of the south and the civil war. As Austin Reed describes the tumultuous events of his childhood, the reader can’t help but sympathize with his misfortunes – the death of his father, his repeated incarceration, all starting at the age of four. Escapes, recaptures, friendship in unexpected places and brief stints in honest employment make up his adventures as he struggles with the ideals his father instilled with him, and his own spontaneous reactions. Reed’s autobiography not only has entertainment merits, but also an important message that carries relevance into the 21st century; though black incarceration is not slavery, it is only by name. – E.E. Newey


  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (January 24, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812986911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812986914