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Cullen Thomas is the author of Brother One Cell, a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book and recommended reading by Lonely Planet. His stories about meeting the president, young militants, classical musicians, crime and punishment, Korean affairs, and interviews with other writers, among other topics, have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, USA Today, GQ Magazine, The Rumpus, Foreign Policy, Penthouse, and the Daily Beast. He's been a talking head on the National Geographic Channel, MSNBC, and CNN, and teaches writing and literature at New York University and Gotham Writers' Workshop.


Conversations with Literary Ex-Cons Series


How to Stop Prisons from Turning Criminals Into Terrorists


Iran's Cold Cases Are Coming Back to Haunt Us

They’re stories on the edge, in the crucible. But beyond the fascination they help me to answer the questions I still have. In a strange way I think these narratives comfort me, with their new perspectives on something deeply personal, their insight into these mysteries of the human condition.

And so I’ve been seeking out other writers and thinkers on these themes, including people who’ve written effectively about their own prison experiences—literary ex-cons. I hope they can shed light for me on how prison and matters of crime and punishment affect the way we think, the way we write.   more

Each time I learn of another terrorist who spent time in prison, I'm taken back to my own prison time. In 1994, I was caught smuggling hashish into South Korea and spent three and a half years imprisoned there. Since then I've struggled to understand the nature of confinement and its effects on the individual.  more

Argentina is only one site where murderous attacks inspired or directed by Iran have gone unpunished. It's time to pull out all the old files.

History repeats itself, whether we've forgotten it or not, and sometimes what used to be considered cold cases come back to haunt those governments that hoped they'd just crumble away like old newspaper clippings in rusting file cabinets.  more

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