Jerry’s Riot: The Montana book everybody’s talking about

Jerry’s Riot, a nonfiction book written by Montana native Kevin S. Giles that frequently rates 5 stars from readers, is the inside story of a deadly disturbance during an era of extensive prison violence in America.

This true crime book examines in revealing detail the explosion that resulted in Deer Lodge, Montana, when former Alcatraz Island convict Jerry Myles collided with reform warden Floyd Powell.

Jerry’s Riot takes the reader inside the prison walls to visit the lives of guards and inmates who experienced the riot. The book contains the only reconstruction of the riot from beginning to end.

The story centers on Myles, the riot’s principal ringleader, drawing extensively on federal and state records and the author’s interviews with hostages, prisoners and others involved.

Buy Jerry’s Riot at BookLocker, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major online bookstores.


True crime reviewer Laura James writes of Jerry’s Riot:

“You can read (or watch) Shawshank Redemption forty times and learn less of real prison life in the era than in a chapter of this book. … Giles paints a stunning portrait of the ringleader, Jerry Myles….”

Buy now buttonAnd Kevin Robert Brooks, author of Zodiac, the Montana Connection, writes:

“From the very first chapter of Jerry’s Riot you will be spell-bound as Kevin S. Giles delivers chilling, firsthand accounts of those who experienced the 1959 riot. Giles effortlessly captures the sights, sounds, and taste of a bygone era, in a prison that held some of the most dangerously, disturbed criminals in the West.”


What’s coming next:

Kevin S. Giles has written a novel set in his hometown of Deer Lodge, Montana. It’s 1965, and Paul Morrison is just 13. His teachers talk of faraway places he can only imagine. He  dreams of kissing a girl for the first time and seeing his beloved Minnesota Twins win the World Series. Paul and his best friends love to fish and ride their bikes and tell stories about real or imagined conquests. On the night of his seventh-grade dance Paul’s first teenage summer changes course when he encounters a stranger who drives a black Chevy. Forthcoming in 2015.

¶ And another forthcoming work:

Another new work, a new edition of Flight of the Dove: The Story or Jeannette Rankin, will bring deeper insight into America’s first woman in Congress. Kevin S. Giles first published this book in 1980, just a few years after Rankin’s death. His new work, full of new detail and insight, delves into her life as one of the 20th Century’s most persistent pacifists. The original book has been out of print for several years, but copies remain available in an Internet search. Forthcoming in 2015 or 2016.

Actor, playwright and pacifist Jeanmarie Simpson writes of Flight of the Dove:

Flight of the Dove is the most comprehensive of all biographies written about Jeannette Rankin. Giles’ research is astonishing, his journalist’s style keeps the fascinating, heartbreaking and inspiring story moving at the pace of a work of great fiction. When I researched my play about Rankin, the 1980 edition of Flight of the Dove became my template, and the paperback fell apart from my exhaustive reading and re-reading. I eagerly anticipate the new edition.”


Actor and writer Allyson Adams, author of The Rebel and the King, says of Flight of the Dove:

“The Jeannette Rankin biography Flight of the Dove by Kevin Giles changed my life.  Kevin Giles introduced me to the woman who said, “You can no more win a war, then you can win an earthquake.” Kevin was the perfect writer to mine the riches of the First American Congresswoman. Thank you Kevin.


About the author:

Kevin S. Giles was raised in Deer Lodge, Montana, in the shadow of Montana State Prison. His father, Murry, narrowly escaped being taken hostage during the 1959 riot and later became a lieutenant of custody. His mother, Jean, was a teacher who taught him the fortunes of reading and writing. Kevin is a University of Montana journalism graduate and has worked as a reporter and editor for six daily newspapers in the United States and Australia. Kevin has edited and designed numerous books.

Contact Kevin at jerrysriot at hotmail dot com


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This is how the 1896 cell house appeared at Montana State Prison soon after it was built. It was considered modern for its time but had no running water. Guards locked each cell individually. The structure was torn down in 1959.

This is how the 1896 cell house appeared at Montana State Prison soon after construction. Although modern for its time, it had no running water. Guards locked each cell individually. The State of Montana demolished the structure in 1959.

By Kevin S. Giles

On April 16, 1959, three angry inmates seized Montana State Prison. They took 26 hostages, including Warden Floyd Powell, and made half-hearted demands for better conditions.

Jerry Myles, the psychopath who led the riot, wanted recognition, not a better place to live. Prison to him was home. He enjoyed more freedom at MSP than at other state and federal prisons where he had served time. At Alcatraz Island, for example, his keepers kept him in close custody for more than a dozen years.

Myles read Montana State Prison’s security like a book. He and co-conspirators Lee Smart and George Alton gained total control in the time it takes to eat dinner. They held the prison for 36 hours before the National Guard charged inside in the wee hours of April 18.

The takeover looked so easy. Why couldn’t the prison guards prevent it?

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