Last year I published a book, “Blood in the Water,” that offered the first comprehensive account of the uprising at New York’s Attica Correctional Facility in 1971 and its legacy. Though this protest against systematic abuse and abysmal living conditions — in which nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the facility, and law enforcement ultimately shot 128 men, killing 39 — was a cultural and political touchstone of the 1970s, much of the story was covered up. Attica is a public institution, but its records are not easily accessible. With no statute of limitations on murder, state officials had much to protect.
So I had to dig, for 13 years, to uncover what had really happened. But even more than a decade of research didn’t turn up everything.