Book Review: Alcatraz: The True End of the Line

I got to meet Darwin Coon on my trip to Alcatraz. It was a very short and uncomfortable conversation. After reading the book, I understand why.

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.

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One thought on “Book Review: Alcatraz: The True End of the Line

  1. About 9 or10 yrs ago we visited alcatraz. There was a man there then who was selling his
    book. He told us alot of the history and as the results we wanted the book. What happened is a friend wanted to read it and when we wanted it back he said he looked and did’nt have it. We really wanted to keep that
    book for our now 5 great grandchildren. He had written in it for us and signed his name.
    I can’t remember the name but he had the bird man in it and showed us the area where they tried to break out and was killed. If and one can help me with the name of book and writer, we would be so happy even thou it isn;t autgraphed. Thank you Fern

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