Required Reading in Jail

This month's Harper's reports on the books Omar Khadr is required to read as part of his "deradicalization" process at Guantanamo Bay. 

One of the books he's supposedly been assigned is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which Thomas Frank believes to be a dubious choice. 

Covey's classic "is a book written for Americans who feel that their present contribution to the planet's richest economy is not quite fulfilling enough," Frank writes. 

"It is a handbook for senior executives suffering anomie as they cruise gated communities in their purring BMW's - and for junior executives who don't yet have that BMW, but want to work their way up from the Camry they currently drive." 

How is this former boy soldier supposed to assimilate American management theory? 

It's possible, Frank argues, that instead of making Khadr more North American,Covey's book will simply teach him to be a more organized, efficient jihadist.

Or maybe he'll buy in.

Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL) is a program that began in Massachusetts as an alternative to incarceration. Professor Robert Waxler and Judge Robert Kane set up a required reading list and book club for offenders. 

"By discussing books, such as James Dickey's Deliverance and Jack London's Sea Wolf, the offenders began to investigate and explore aspects of themselves, to listen to their peers, to increase their ability to communicate ideas and feelings to men of authority who they thought would never listen to them, and to engage in dialogue in a democratic classroom where all ideas were valid. Instead of seeing their world from one angle, they began opening up to new perspectives and started realizing that they had choices in life. Thus, literature became a road to insight."  

Running the program costs $500 per person; keeping a person incarcerated costs about $30,000 year per inmate.