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Film 'Life' A Stark Contrast Of Book It's Based Upon, 'Worse Than Slavery'

The 1999 comedy-drama film, "Life," is full of jokes, memorable lines, a popular soundtrack, and quality acting by A-list stars Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. The supporting cast is also instrumental in the film's success.

The movie, directed by Ted Demme and written by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone, provides a comical story of prison life in the 1930s to 1990s in the state of Mississippi.

However, the book that the film is slightly based on tells an entire different narrative that describes the day-to-day operations of one of the most notorious penal institution in the United States.

The book, Worst Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice, written by David M. Oshinsky, is a riveting account of racism, punishment, inhumanity, and abuse of power in the deep south.

Compared to many situations concerning the African American community today, "Worse Than Slavery" puts an exclamation point on a forgotten era in Black History, from the early days of cotton-field chain gains, to the incarceration of civil rights activists in the 1960s.

Oshinsky took the precious time to examine police records, prison documents, folklore, blues in the Mississippi Delta, oral histories and interview Parchman Farm inmates. The book was first published by Simon and Schuster's The Free Press in 1996.

Just over 300 pages, the book illustrates that the end of slavery in the 1860s did not end the systematic oppression of Black Americans. Another mean, manifested in horror and a few lightly veiled in the film "Life," explains that Jim Crow justice behind the walls was worse than enslavement.


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