Goines' classic novel of prison life, it has been called "one of the most revealing books ever written about prison life and bigotry built into our system." This is the story of Chester Hines, who thought he was the baddest man to come down the street. Behind prison walls he was nothing more than fresh meat.
“All those [other black] writers, no matter how well they dealt with black experience, appealed largely to an educated, middle-class, largely white readership. They brought news of one place to the residents of another. Goines’ novels, on the other hand , are written from ground zero. They are almost unbearable. It is not the educated voice of a writer who has, so to speak, risen above his background, it is the voice of the ghetto itself.” --Michael Covino The Village Voice