¶ Jerry’s Riot, the one-of-a-kind nonfiction account of Montana’s 1959 prison riot
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Jerry’s Riot: The True Story of Montana’s 1959 Prison Disturbance, is a nonfiction book written by Montana native Kevin S. Giles that frequently rates 5 stars from readers. It’s the inside story of a deadly disturbance during an era of extensive prison violence in America.
“I’m an avid reader and found Jerry’s Riot one of the most enjoyable books that I’ve ever read. The extent of research by Mr. Giles makes all the many characters in the book come to life in a riveting page turner. Having lived in Deer Lodge at the time of the riot makes it that much more compelling. Many of my memories of the event were confirmed by the book. I recommend anyone interested in history or those who enjoy a well written book to pick it up.” — Patrick Burdick, Kelseyville, California
This 445-page true crime book examines in revealing detail the explosion that resulted in Deer Lodge, Montana, when former Alcatraz Island convict Jerry Myles collided with reform warden Floyd Powell.
Jerry’s Riot takes the reader inside the prison walls to visit the lives of guards and inmates who experienced the riot. The book contains the only reconstruction of the riot from beginning to end.
The story centers on Myles, the riot’s principal ringleader, drawing extensively on federal and state records and the author’s interviews with hostages, prisoners and others involved.
True crime reviewer Laura James writes of Jerry’s Riot:
“You can read (or watch) Shawshank Redemption forty times and learn less of real prison life in the era than in a chapter of this book. … Giles paints a stunning portrait of the ringleader, Jerry Myles….”
And Kevin Robert Brooks, author of Zodiac, the Montana Connection, writes:
“From the very first chapter of Jerry’s Riot you will be spell-bound as Kevin S. Giles delivers chilling, firsthand accounts of those who experienced the 1959 riot. Giles effortlessly captures the sights, sounds, and taste of a bygone era, in a prison that held some of the most dangerously, disturbed criminals in the West.”
Jerry’s Riot starts like this:
“A board falling flat to the floor is thunder to the heart. And so it was when prison guard Clyde Sollars heard a hard clap, he stiffened in fear. For a few seconds he listened, breathless.”
What did Sollars hear? Why was he afraid?
Few people at the prison knew much about Myles, a bull of a man built on tiny feet. Most of the guards hadn’t heard about his extensive prison career, which included time at three federal penitentiaries: USP Atlanta, Alcatraz Island, and USP Leavenworth. Myles came to Montana State Prison on purpose. He had no intention of escaping.
‘Prison is my home,’ he told sociologist Walter Jones Jr.
When the riot began, Warden Floyd Powell and a few other Montana officials tried to spin it as a misguided escape attempt. But why would Myles want to leave?
Myles was a confirmed psychopath. He wanted attention and got it. The reasons lie deep in his tattered childhood. The dangerous old bastille in Deer Lodge, a fixture there since territorial days, gave him the perfect stage.
This isn’t just another history book. Jerry’s Riot takes readers inside the mind of a psychopath who started what LIFE magazine would call “one of the most spectacular prison riots in America.” Jerry Myles was a career criminal. He was one of the longest-held inmates at the Alcatraz Island federal prison. And then came April 16, 1959, at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge. Murder. Hostages. Threats of burning and hanging. A city on edge. All told in personal stories by the men who were guards and prisoners and saw the riot up close and personal.
Readers of Jerry’s Riot say the book took them behind the prison walls and put them into the riot. It left them feeling worried. They felt the fear.
¶ “I could hear the frightening clang and loud, eerie echo of the prison’s steel doors and chills overcame me time and again,” wrote Suzanne Lintz Ives, author of ‘Bob, the Tree who Became a Star’. “Kevin Giles’ detail in Jerry’s Riot is absorbing. He paints the picture of those formidable and threatening days with a fine brush. The picture Giles paints is haunting and unforgettable.”
¶ Wrote another: “Kevin Giles provides a chilling look into the mind of a madman and the institution that created him. His account of the 1959 Montana State Prison riot gives us an insider’s look at both sides of prison society and the predatory misfit who was at home in it.”
Jerry’s Riot: The True Story of Montana’s 1959 Prison Disturbance, is available at an affordable price. It makes a valuable gift for anyone who loves engaging stories. This high-quality paperback book sells for $22.95 in print or $4.99 in electronic download. Books purchased online will be sent directly to the recipient. Books also are available for purchase at Old Montana Prison gift shop in Deer Lodge and at Bison Books, also in Deer Lodge.
Reviewer Laura James, who has written reviews of true crime stories for years, loved Jerry’s Riot. She was so impressed with “the enormous quality of the prose” that she awarded the book five stars. Readers have responded with the same enthusiasm.
Giles wrote of the riot ringleader, Jerry Myles:
¶ “Myles would relish each tragic and dangerous moment. Those moments would be building blocks, and after he had constructed a monument to himself that stood high and public and sated his deepest desires for glory, and after the streets of Deer Lodge filled with onlookers and all the papers wrote about what he had done and hostages’ wives cried and he could feel anguish of his captive guards in the heavy cool air of the cell house, he would commit murder before his monument toppled. Two dozen hostages waited to die….”
See what thousands of readers have discovered!