My first thought on reading this book was that it was an odd one to have submitted to JAMA for review. This is not to imply that the book is not well written or well researched. It is both. It is essentially, however, a report on a study measuring "the effects of imprisonment and the way that confinement changes—or fails to change—established behavior patterns" (p 16). As such, it is of considerably more interest to criminologists and psychologists than physicians. In fact, the book is part of a Research in Criminology series edited by Alfred Blumstein and David P. Farrington.
The authors begin with a brief review of sociological (environmentalism) and psychological (nativism) studies on the effects of imprisonment. They reject both as incomplete perspectives and choose instead to focus on the interaction between environmental and personal factors, operationalized as the ability of inmates to cope with various situations.