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Book Review Unchained by Phyllis Coard

Inspiring memoir from a Grenadian woman revolutionary

PHYLLIS COARD, co-founder of the National Women’s Organisation of Grenada from 1977 to 1983, lived through momentous times on the tiny island.

In 1979, the New Jewel Movement ousted Eric Gairy and his vicious Mongoose Gang to start what became known as “the Revo.”

There were massive improvements in the lives of women and children and, as outlined in the book Forward Ever: Journey to a New Grenada by her husband Bernard Coard, health and education were prioritised.

Unchained: A Caribbean Woman’s Journey Through Invasion, Incarceration and Liberation tells the story of what happened to her when, after four years of relentless destabilisation, the US invaded Grenada in 1983.

Subsequently, she was the only woman of those tried and sentenced, and her incarceration was particularly cruel. She writes of the sham nature of the trial and of judges demanding higher fees before delivering verdicts.

Sentenced to hang, she suffered beatings, semi-starvation and isolation. She tells of vindictive prison authorities and of her resistance and also of the campaign to free her and the other Grenadian political prisoners and refers to the British Communist Party and the Morning Star with particular affection.

Every bit as poignant as Czech communist Julius Fucik’s Report from the Gallows, his account of his imprisonment by the Gestapo in WWII, this book deserves to be widely read.

Unchained is published by McDermott Publishing, £10.99.

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