cover image Inside Allenwood: The Story of a British Banker in a U.S. Prison

Inside Allenwood: The Story of a British Banker in a U.S. Prison

Giles Darby with George Harrison. Quiller (IPG, dist.), $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-84689-329-2

Darby, one of three NatWest bankers who were indicted in the collapse of Enron in 2001, offers an eye-opening account of the six months he served for wire fraud at Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution in Allenwood, Pa., after he was extradited to the U.S. in 2008. Used to a high-flying lifestyle in Britain, Darby had to contend with the tedium of life within the minimum-security prison. Working in the prison laundry and taking guitar lessons helped pass the time, but the highlight was playing on his unit’s soccer team. He made friends with hardened criminals, met a mobster, a computer hacker, and not a few sex offenders. Compared to those involved in violence or those who received Dear John letters while behind bars, Darby had it pretty good, but he was ecstatic to leave the U.S. in November 2008, knowing that he would likely never return since felons rarely are granted U.S. visas. He served the remainder of his 37-month sentence in Britain and was released in 2010. Darby, who views himself as an innocent victim of circumstance, has a knack for the telling detail, as shown in his description of the prison’s bartering system, in which the currency was “packets of dried fish.” This intriguing look at the American justice system will appeal to true crime fans as well as those who enjoy a good fish-out-of-water story. (Aug.)