You don’t hear much about Guantanamo these days, unless you keep an eye on the writings of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie Savage. Last week, Savage reported on a hunger strike involving 93 prisoners that’s now in its third month. Ostensibly the protest is in response to prison guards handling the Koran in disrespectful ways. But the real cause comes down to this: “a growing sense among many prisoners, some of whom have been held without trial for more than 11 years, that they will never go home.”
As part of Savage’s reporting on Gitmo, he has also created a photo blog that gives us insight into the prison library and its odd collection of books. The library offers prisoners access to Captain America comics (that must go over well with enemy combatants); pulp romance books by Danielle Steele (another choice pick for Islamists); the complete Harry Potter series (I imagine the Prisoner of Azkaban volume hits home); some more serious works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and Charles Dickens; an assortment of religious books; and the occasional self help book like The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook.
According to news reports, the library currently has 3,500 volumes on pre-approved topics. Prisoners have to order books in advance. (They can’t just wonder through the stacks.) And the most popular books include Agatha Christie mysteries, the self-help manual Don’t Be Sad; the The Lord of the Rings; and, of course, Harry Potter.
You can follow Savage’s photoblog here.