Perfecting Tyranny by Mumia Abu-Jamal & Stephen Vittoria is a window into the soul of a nation from one of its most respected and feared captives. Getting this book to print took enormous resolve. We now turn to you to help us bring it to life in the world.
Perfecting Tyranny joins Vincent Harding’s There is a River, Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, and Nick Estes’ Our History is the Future in the canon of revolutionary historical texts. Like those other renowned authors, Abu-Jamal and Vittoria give voice to communities who have always lived in resistance, and seldom been heard.
“Poetic, biting, fiery, accessible, and utterly undeniable, Murder Incorporated roots this nation in its true history of empire, revealing the Dorian Gray portrait America has worked so hard to hide away. Reading this book and its framework is literally a matter of life or death.”—Walidah Imarisha, author, educator, activist, poet.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was already a notable and gifted radio reporter in Philadelphia in the early 80’s when he was shot, beaten, arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to death. He was denied visits and phone calls for eight years, and he lived in solitary confinement on death row for 28 years. In 2014, the PA legislature passed a law to take away his phone calls and his pen.
Although off death row and with hard-fought access to pen and paper, Mumia is now in his 39th year of a life sentence.
Swaths of this 1,500-page trilogy were handwritten with the cartridge of a ballpoint pen. Throughout his research of this definitive text on United States history, Abu-Jamal was threatened with cell restriction and a loss of phone and visits if he had more than 7 books and too much paper in his cell at a time.
Prison Radio and Stephen Vittoria persisted in making sure Mumia had the tools and communication necessary to write. It’s been an uphill battle every moment. Even now, Abu-Jamal is allowed no computer access. He composes his work by hand and on a plastic typewriter. He has access to an email tablet, but is restricted to 2000 characters and cannot print or save the messages. All of his physical mail is routed through and scanned in Florida: he never sees or touches the original.
For years, enslaved Black people in the United States were forbidden to read and write. Fighting back against centuries of repression of Black intellectual thought, Mumia’s literacy and his unfailing truth telling seek to forge a path to freedom for all of us.
Mumia Abu-Jamal & Stephen Vittoria chart a course with this important investigation, sifting the truth from the propaganda of United States “democracy.” Stephen Vittoria’s voice will be found in this work in its wry and blunt descriptions of a reality that is often breathtakingly painful. Thank you Stephen for accompanying Mumia on this long and often difficult task.
Prison Radio is proud to be the publisher of Perfecting Tyranny, and to be a part of its groundbreaking history. We’re thankful for the foreword by Angela Davis that centers this work in the abolitionist tradition.
At Prison Radio we have always organized around the principle that honoring the humanity of Mumia, and of all of our family inside, requires we listen and amplify their voices, and we work for their freedom. We know that their incarceration also holds those of us outside in bondage. As we fight to liberate their voices, their voices liberate us.
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