The book has less to do with Alcatraz and more to do with Coon’s life. He starts off robbing banks, eventually gets caught. He escapes, get caught again, sent to Leavenworth. It’s at Leavenworth he’s accused of stealing tools from the shop and is sent to Alcatraz.
The book is a quick read, fairly well written. Coon’s opinion is that it is possible to retrain and change a person’s behavior. He doesn’t think prison has to be JUST punishment. To that end, he was glad when Alcatraz was closed. Alcatraz existed to punish and punish only. It’s purpose was not to rehabilitate. After taking the tour and reading his book – that much is clear. If you were sent to Alcatraz, it was basically a death sentence.
The book doesn’t just take you on Coon’s wild ride but introduces you to some of Alcatraz’s more famous prisoners. Al Capone, The Birdman, as well as the Anglin brothers – subject of the Clint Eastwood movie “Escape from Alcatraz.” Coon was an unknowing accomplice to the “Escape from Alcatraz” saga. He got a tool for one of the Anglin brothers. He had no idea at the time what they were planning.
The fact that the Anglin brothers were never seen or heard from again has led many to assume they died. Coon disagrees. According to Coon, the Anglin brothers were Bayou Boys. They loved the water, knew how to live off the land. They were also extremely intelligent. Coon believes that Jon Anglin was one of the smartest men he has ever known. Plus, they were quiet. They didn’t like attention, knew how to keep their mouth shut. The fact they had planned and worked on the escape for almost 2 years proves that fact.
The surprise of the book comes when Coon is released. After spending over 20 years in prison, what would he do with his life? He meets Jesus, gets married and starts foster parenting. Now he sits at Alcatraz a few days a week telling others not just his story but His as well.