Tag Archives: Books I Recommend

Books I’ve Read: Strangeways: A Prison Officer’s Story


A Prison Officer’s Story

What’s it about ?

Neil ‘Sam’ Samworth spent eleven years working as a prison officer in HMP Manchester, aka Strangeways. A tough Yorkshireman with a soft heart, Sam had to deal with it all – gangsters and gangbangers, terrorists and psychopaths, addicts and the mentally ill. Men who should not be locked up and men who should never be let out.

Strangeways is a shocking and at times darkly funny account of life in a high security prison. Sam tackles cell fires and self-harmers, and goes head to head with some of the most dangerous men in the country. He averts a Christmas Day riot after turkey is taken off the menu and replaced by fish curry, and stands up to officers who abuse their position. He describes being attacked by prisoners, and reveals the problems caused by radicalization and the drugs flooding our prisons.

As staffing cuts saw Britain’s prison system descend into crisis, the stress of the job – the suicides, the inhumanity of the system, and one assault too many – left Sam suffering from PTSD. This raw, searingly honest memoir is a testament to the men and women of the prison service and the incredibly difficult job we ask them to do.

‘Authentic, tough, horrifying in some places, hilarious in others . . . the author’s honesty and decency shine through’ Jonathan Aitken

My Thoughts

I thought this was an awesome book and it had me gripped from the first til last page. Neil’s journey through the prison services was fascinating and he showed compassion and empathy towards those that hunt most of our nightmares and we get to read first hand about many of the weird and wonderful folk he meets along the way , staff and prisoners alike I hasten to add. His time there took a heavy toll on his mental health and his honesty about this struck a cord with me and I reached out to him to say hello and wish him all the best for the future.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

He’s on Twitter and is a top guy and well worth a follow.


Jonathan Aitken’s Review

Jonathan Aitken’s Review

Neil Samworth’s story is authentic, tough, horrifying in some places and hilarious in others. It captivates the reader because the author’s honesty and decency shine through as he tells it like it is on the daily roller coaster ride of prison life in Strangeways. An enthralling, exciting but disturbing book. (Jonathan Aitken)

Amazon Reviews:

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Inside HMP Strangeways Riots UK Prison Documentary (The Riots) HD 2018

Others books Ive read


Good Cop, Bad War – Books I’ve Read

Good Cop, Bad war

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 ‘The logic of the drugs war only leads one way: the police get smarter, so the criminals get nastier. Things can only ever go from bad to worse, from savagery to savagery…

Neil Woods takes you a on  a roller coaster ride as he tells the  frank and sometimes edge of seat frightening story of  his life as an undercover cop and his infiltration of some of the most violent and ruthless drugs gangs in the UK.

Starting out in the early 90s and making the rules up as he went, Neil was at the forefront of police surveillance. He quickly earned a name as the most successful operative of his time and his expertise was called upon by drugs squads around the country to tackle an ever growing problem.

For fourteen long, lonely years Neil donned the persona of a low life drug addict and the fact that he grew to respect and sympathise with those he would ultimately  need to betray – in order to gain access to the “main players”   speaks volumes about the man’s character.

But after years on the streets, spending time with these vulnerable users at the bottom of the chain, Neil began to question the seemingly futile war he was risking both his life and sanity for. What if the real enemy wasn’t who he thought?

The strain of living on the edge and facing constant dangers eventually takes a heavy toll on Neil’s personnel life , marriage and health and its hardly a surprise when he has a complete mental meltdown and finds himself in a dark lonely place.

Good Cop, Bad War is an intense account of the true effects of the War on drugs and a gripping insight into the high pressure world of British undercover policing.

 ” I challenge anyone to read this book and not be convinced by Neil’s conclusions. After all, when cops say ‘legalise drugs’, you can’t help but ask why.”





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