Index Bio Books/Reviews New
M. Hornblum www.hornblum.com
Allen M. Hornblum was born and raised in Philadelphia and has become a
noted chronicler of some of the more
contentious and hair-raising chapters in the city’s and nation's history. For more
years than he cares to admit, however, he had more footballs, tennis
racquets, and track shoes than books. That would eventually change.
A product of the Philadelphia Public School System, he would go on to
attain degrees from Penn State, Villanova, and Temple Universities and
develop a healthy appetite for good books, solid research, and respect for
investigative journalists and chroniclers of American history. Before
devoting all his time to researching and writing about the people and
events he felt had been neglected over the years, Allen was more the
public activist than solitary, library-based scholar. Between these polar opposites was
an eclectic professional life that included stints as a prison literacy
instructor, congressional staffer, advocate for the dispossessed, with
additional turns as a transit lobbyist, cable television host, law
enforcement administrator, and college lecturer.
He made contributions in each of these positions, some of them
substantial. In the criminal justice arena, for example, he would champion
many reform policies and procedures while serving as the Chief-of-Staff of
the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, a member of the Pennsylvania Crime
Commission, and the Pennsylvania Commission for Crime & Delinquency
amongst others. Crime and punishment, and the history of imprisonment
would be become permanent interests of his and he would go on to visit
such infamous institutions as Strangeways, Mountjoy, Le Sante and Regensdorf Penitentiaries.
His years as a prison worker and political organizer helped nurture a
pronounced distaste for injustice and interest in the plight of the
downtrodden. Much of Allen’s research and policy interests would focus on
the exploited and leveling the political and economic playing field. It
was his passion for revealing social inequities and instances of outright
abuse that resulted in his leaving his position in the Sheriff’s Office to
research and chronicle the history of the Holmesburg Prison medical
experiments, which he had personally witnessed earlier in his career.
Acres of Skin, Allen’s groundbreaking investigation of this dark chapter
in American medical history - and the complicity of many penal systems
across the country - has now become the classic work on the subject and a
recipient of considerable media attention. The book has been featured on a
host of national news shows including, Good Morning America, the CBS
Evening News, CNN, the BBC, and the front page of the New York Times. His
other books have also garnered extensive print and electronic coverage.
In addition to teaching at Temple and Drexel Universities, Allen has also
lectured widely and to a diverse audience of scholars, physicians, and
average citizens. He has presented his research to the National Institutes
of Health, the British Medical Association, the Fox Chase Cancer Center,
and a host of medical schools including Temple, Drexel, and East Carolina.
He is often asked to give presentations at colleges and universities and
has addressed students and faculty at many universities including
Columbia, Brown, Penn State, St. Josephs, and Villanova.