Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy is the third book from University of Michigan historian Heather Ann Thompson. It provides the first complete history of the Attica Prison uprising of 1971 and details not only the events of the week-long uprising and its brutal ending, but also the protracted legal battles that persisted for decades after the event. Blood in the Water reflects the more than a decade of research, including information from interviews, government records, personal correspondence, and legal documents, much of which has never been made public before. Thompson argues that the Attica uprising and the state's response represented shifting American approaches to incarceration and policy, the reverberations of which continue to influence America's prison system. Film rights to the book have been optioned by TriStar Pictures.[1]

Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
Blood in the Water (book).jpg
AuthorHeather Ann Thompson
CountryUnited States
SubjectAttica Prison riot, Criminal Justice, Law, History, Race
Publication date
August 2016
Pages752 pp
AwardsPulitzer Prize and others
ISBN978-0-375-42322-2 (Hardcover)


Since its publication in 2016, Blood in the Water has been profiled by media outlets across the U.S., Europe, and Canada, and has received much critical praise. Quite unusually, the book was featured and reviewed in three separate sections of the New York Times with one of the reviews calling it a "gripping...remarkable...a superb work of history,"[2], another heralding its research, and the final one, a full-length piece in the NYT Book Review, lauding its passion and power. Reviews is other publications such as Newsweek and the Christian Science Monitor were equally glowing, with the latter calling the book "a masterpiece." Author Heather Ann Thompson was herself featured in the New York Times Magazine. Additionally, Blood in the Water has won a number of book awards. In 2017, it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history,[3] the Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy,[4] the Ridenhour Prize, and the J. Willard Hurst Award in Socio-Legal History,[5] amongst others. Blood in the Water was a National Book Award Finalist in 2016, as well as a New York Times Most Notable Book, Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book of 2016, and received starred reviews at Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal.[6][7][8]

Awards and HonorsEdit

  • Pulitzer Prize in History 2017
  • Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy 2017
  • Ridenhour Book Prize 2017
  • J. Willard Hurst Award in Socio-Legal History 2017
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist 2017
  • Finalist Silver Gavel Award for Media and the Arts, Honorable Mention 2017
  • New York City Bar Association Award 2016
  • National Book Award Finalist 2016
  • New York Times Most Notable Books of 2016
  • Top Ten Best Books of 2016 Publishers Weekly
  • Top Ten Best Works of Non-Fiction of 2016 Kirkus Reviews
  • Top Ten Books of 2016 Newsweek


  1. ^ Ford, Rebecca. "Prison Uprising Book 'Blood in the Water' Sells to TriStar in Bidding War (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  2. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark. "'Blood in the Water,' a Gripping Account of the Attica Prison Uprising". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  3. ^ "2017 Pulitzer Prizes". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  4. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer. "Bancroft Prize for History Awarded to 3 Scholars". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  5. ^ "2017 Award Winners". Law and Society Association. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  6. ^ "2016 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  7. ^ "100 Notable Books of 2016". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  8. ^ "2016 Best Books". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 30 June 2017.