This is the vivid and eye-opening autobiography of student dropout Billy Hayes, who relates his years from 1970-75 in the prisons of Turkey, where he was imprisoned for smuggling hashish. Captured at Istanbul airport by a random search, he has to learn to handle himself inside to survive. His case takes years to go through the courts, slowed down by the grinding wheels of the Turkish injustice system, crooked lawyers, and the bureaucracy found the world over in these cases. American status does not protect him, he is sentenced to life imprisonment, commuted to thirty years. There are graphic descriptions of everything that goes on: there are Turks, Europeans, one or two other Americans, and children all imprisoned together.
He has various plans for escape, the title of the book is his code word for his escape plan. His first plan revolves around getting a psychiatric discharge or escape from an easy prison. A couple of the other prisoners do escape, one by sheer cunning and the other by clever bribery. One or two fail spectacularly. One man is beaten so badly by the warders that he murders one of them when he is released and gets put straight back into the same prison. Billy keeps himself going by correspondence with home and a past girlfriend, and adapting to but not succumbing to the prison regime. He has to learn to stay alive as a person and keep his humanity by forming friendships and alliances where he can. One of the great ironies of being inside is the free availability of hashish and other drugs, which are used by all--police, prison guards, and prisoners alike. Eventually he is transferred to a low security island prison where he can steal a boat, row to the mainland, and escape to Greece. He returned home, much the wiser for his experiences, and co-wrote this book and also signed the Hollywood deal which led to the famous film of the same name.
This synopsis report prepared by Michael JR Jose