Pulitzer Prize Awardees for General Nonfiction

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Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness (2006)

Written by Pete Earley

Pete Earley had no idea. He'd been a journalist for over thirty years, and the author of several award-winning even bestselling-nonfiction books about crime and punishment and society. Yet he'd always been on the outside looking in. He had no idea what it was like to be on the inside looking out until his son, Mike, was declared mentally ill, and Earley was thrown headlong into the maze of contradictions, disparities, and catch-22s that is America's mental health system.

The more Earley dug, the more he uncovered the bigger picture: Our nation's prisons have become our new mental hospitals. Crazy tells two stories. The first is his son's. The second describes what Earley learned during a yearlong investigation inside the Miami-Dade County jail, where he was given complete, unrestricted access. There, and in the surrounding community, he shadowed inmates and patients; interviewed correctional officers, public defenders, prosecutors, judges, mental-health professionals, and the police; talked with parents, siblings, and spouses; consulted historians, civil rights lawyers, and legislators.

The result is both a remarkable piece of investigative journalism, and a wake-up call—a portrait that could serve as a snapshot of any community in America. This book is a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. (Copyright © Putnam/Penguin. All rights reserved.)

Source:  Penguin Random House Company.

Pete Earley is the author of thirteen books, including three New York Times bestsellers. For his book, The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison (1992), Earley spent an entire year as a reporter inside the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. His book, Circumstantial Evidence: Death Life and Justice in a Southern Town (1995), helped free a wrongly accused man from Alabama’s death row. The book won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Fact Crime Book in 1996. His book about John Walker spy ring, Family of Spies (1988), was a New York Times bestseller and was made into a CBS miniseries starring Powers Boothe and Lesley Ann Warren. 

After a 14-year career in journalism, including six years at The Washington Post, he became a full-time author with a commitment to expose the stories that entertain and surprise. He uses his journalistic background to take a fair-minded approach to a story while weaving an interesting tale for the reader.

His book, Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, was one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize. It describes his adult son’s mental breakdown and how American jails and prisons have become our new mental asylums. When Earley’s life was turned upside down by the events recounted in his book Crazy, he joined the National Alliance of Mental Illness to advocate for strong mental health reform on the public stage. This new advocacy has taken him to 46 different states and multiple countries around the globe where he delivers speeches to rally against the troubled mental health systems and for the mentally ill.

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