In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir
Harper, 2011 (2009)
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Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
t first I thought
The Sanctuary of Outcasts
was a work of fiction. It had to have been. Here is a man, Neil White, incarcerated for eighteen months because of bank fraud. Sounded like what he wrote about was a country club prison with lots of freedom and amenities. He told his two children he was going to camp.
hen, the kicker. He discovered that the prison inmates only occupied half of the prison. The other half housed leprosy patients! The prisoners were not to have any contact with the other half of the colony at Carville, Louisiana. These were the last people in the United States disfigured by leprosy.
any had lost digits, noses, legs and were not high on a guest list anywhere. Over time, White overcame his revulsion as well as the fear he might contract the dreaded disease. Although, now, the patients were there voluntarily, as their disease was contained by medications, many chose to stay in what had become their home.
hite himself did a lot of introspection. He had been a man who succeeded very quickly and made barrels of money, mostly using his charm. When his dealings went south, he used others' money to cover his losses. Even after declaring bankruptcy, he was able to coax his investors to loan him money! He says his sojourn in Carville made him see himself as others did and he vowed to change his ways.
'm not too sure he would be able to accomplish that. But
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts
is an interesting book. A part of U.S. history.
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