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Bio Allen 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.

 

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