The true story of a group of four boys brought up in New York's notorious Mafia-run "Hell's Kitchen" during the 1960s. After nearly causing a man's death, they were sent to a reformatory where guards routinely brutalized them, leaving them with nothing but an undying loyalty to one another.
From Publishers Weekly
Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, summer 1967: "a place of innocence ruled by corruption." John "The Count," Tommy "Butter," Michael "Spots" and the author, "Shakes, " went to parochial school, stole anything that wasn't nailed down and ran errands for the local mobster, King Benny. It was all fun and games, but that ended the day a childish prank went wrong, a man almost died and the kids became "sleepers"?inmates of the Wilkinson Home for Boys in upstate New York. The boys were brutalized by sadistic prison guards; beatings, rape and sodomy happened daily. The author and his pals survived Wilkinson, but their lives were permanently scarred by their detention. John and Tommy became mobsters. One evening in 1980, they happened upon their chief tormentor and shot him dead in a Hell's Kitchen pub. At trial they were prosecuted by their old friend, Michael, now a district attorney, who would purposely lose the trial, and in the process exorcise their childhood demons. Although the author uses fictitious names to protect identities, this is a riveting story delicious with revenge as he details how every guard that brutalized them was exposed. In a memoir that reads like a novel, Carcaterra (A Safe Place) mixes horror, laughter and pathos to show that justice, like love, is in the eye of the beholder. Movie rights to Propaganda Films; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A book with a punch equal to its publicity hype! Journalist Carcaterra tells with gripping force of his days growing up in the tough New York City neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s (the names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty). He and his three closest buddies engaged in petty crime until the day their tricks got out of hand and escalated into a major offense, for which they were sent to a juvenile home in upstate New York. They were tormented during their months there, not by other young inmates but by their adult guards, who brutalized them relentlessly in a program of horror and torture that included rape. Once out, once grown up, one of the boys became a lawyer, and through a bizarre twist of events worthy of being turned into a movie (in fact, the movie rights have been sold, with Barry Levinson lined up as director), he, Carcaterra, and the other two friends expose the horrible wrongs they suffered in that detention home. Both difficult to read and difficult to put down, this book will garner lots of attention, and as a result, readership demand will be high. Brad Hooper --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From the Publisher
Every so often a manuscript hits the office and causes incredible buzz right from the start. I remember that we didn't circulate many copies of the mansucript, but as each person read it and passed it on to the next person who was clamoring for it, the commitment to SLEEPERS grew.
I will always remember taking my turn with the bound mansucript: I was on a Metro-North train on my way home to Connecticut. I was reading the most harrowing parts of the story, where the young boys were repeatedly raped and beaten and isolated. I was close to tears right there on the train; but what put me over the edge was a conversation I overheard at one point when I had come up for air. Several youngish broker types were chatting about nothing, and one of them said, "You know, the guys in my office are always complaining about how tough life is, how hard it is to make ends meet. I'm just sick of hearing it." By comparison to the experience of the boys in SLEEPERS, this smug bastard had life handed to him on a silver platter and it still wasn't good enough. Life was so good for him that he was simply beyond hearing about someone else's reality. That contrast caused the tears, and I only wish I'd had the courage to say something.
I should also say, and maybe I shouldn't, that while the movie had its good points, reading the book is a far more satisfying experience, tears and all. I don't think that anyone who reads Sleepers can come away unchanged. It isn't for the weak of stomach, but in the same sense that SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is a tough movie to watch, imagine having to live through it. That's why we read, and that's why some of us come to publishing.
Sheila Phelan, Director of Circulation
From the Inside Flap
This is the true story of four young boys. Four lifelong friends. Intelligent, fun-loving, wise beyond their years, they are inseparable. Their potential is unlimited, but they are content to live within the closed world of New York City's Hell's Kitchen. And to play as many pranks as they can on the denizens of the street. They never get caught. And they know they never will.
Until one disastrous summer afternoon.
On that day, what begins as a harmless scheme goes horrible wrong. And the four find themselves facing a year's imprisonment in the Wilkinson Home for Boys. The oldest of them is fifteen, the youngest twelve. What happens to them over the course of that year--brutal beatings, unimaginable humiliation--will change their lives forever.
Years later, one has become a lawyer. One a reporter. And two have grown up to be murderers, professional hit men. For all of them, the pain and fear of Wilkinson still rages within. Only one thing can erase it.
To exact it, they will twist the legal system. Commandeer the courtroom for their agenda. Use the wiles they observed on the streets, the violence they learned at Wilkinson.
If they get caught this time, they only have one thing left to lose: their lives.
Sleepers is the extraordinary true story of four men who take the law into their own hands. Brilliantly written, it is a searing portrait of a system gone awry and of the people--some innocent, some not so innocent--who must suffer the consequences. At the heart of Sleepers is a sensational murder trial that ultimately gives devastating, yet exhilarating, proof of street justice and truly defines the meaning of loyalty and love between friends. Told with great humor and compassion, even at its most harrowing, Sleepers is an unforgettable reading experience. It will leave you breathless. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Lorenzo Carcaterra is the author of A Safe Place: The True Story of a Father, a Son, a Murder. He is married and has two children. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.