The Autobiography of an Execution by David R. Dow

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Synopsis

Near the beginning of The Autobiography of an Execution, David Dow lays his cards on the table. "People think that because I am against the death penalty and don't think people should be executed, that I forgive those people for what they did. Well, it isn't my place to forgive people, and if it were, I probably wouldn't. I'm a judgmental and not very forgiving guy. Just ask my wife."

It this spellbinding true crime narrative, Dow takes us inside of prisons, inside the complicated minds of judges, inside execution-administration chambers, into the lives of death row inmates (some shown to be innocent, others not) and even into his own home--where the toll of working on these gnarled and difficult cases is perhaps inevitably paid. He sheds insight onto unexpected phenomena-- how even religious lawyer and justices can evince deep rooted support for putting criminals to death-- and makes palpable the suspense that clings to every word and action when human lives hang in the balance.
 

About David R. Dow

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David R. Dow is professor of law at the University of Houston Law Center and an internationally recognized figure in the fight against the death penalty. He is the founder and director of the Texas Innocence Network and has represented more than thirty death row inmates.Regrularly quoted in publications like theNew York Timesand theWashington Post, Dow is the coeditor ofMachinery of Death: The Reality of of America's Death Penalty Regime.He lives in Houston, Texas.
 
Published February 3, 2010 by Twelve. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Crime, Law & Philosophy, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Yet, he writes, “if you believe it's wrong to kill, you believe it's wrong to kill.” So Dow continually tried to prevent—or, more likely, delay, if only for a few days or hours—his clients' executions by a legal system in which “you hardly ever win.” In this racist, classist system, writes the au...

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The New York Times

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(“It was the first time I went drinking with a nun.”) Prejean tells Dow, who has represented more than 100 death row inmates over 20 years, that “support for the death penalty is a mile wide, but just an inch deep.” Dow responds: “Well, Sister, I believe you can drown in an inch of water.” This b...

Feb 11 2010 | Read Full Review of The Autobiography of an Execu...

Publishers Weekly

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The author, the litigation director of the Texas Defender Service and a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, respects the notion of attorney-client privilege in this handful of real-life legal outcomes, some of them quite tragic, while acknowledging executions are “not about the att...

Oct 12 2009 | Read Full Review of The Autobiography of an Execu...

Examiner

Though at times awkward, lacking the definition of chapter divisions and quotation marks, it beautifully chronicles Dow’s personal struggle to balance a normal, happy life with his less than normal profession while also outlining the harrowing stories of some of the cases he has represented.

Mar 18 2011 | Read Full Review of The Autobiography of an Execu...

Book Reporter

An author, a husband, a father and a dog lover, Dow has watched men get executed and then gone home to hold hands with his wife and gaze lovingly at his little boy.

Dec 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The Autobiography of an Execu...

Christian Science Monitor

A death penalty attorney writes with candor about the painful burdens of his job.

Feb 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Autobiography of an Execu...

Chron.com

Dow suggests changes that will force jurors, judges, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles members and the governor to feel personal responsibility for an execution.

Feb 07 2010 | Read Full Review of The Autobiography of an Execu...

NJ.com

A significant majority of Americans reportedly continues to favor the death penalty, despite numerous studies demonstrating that it does not serve as a meaningful deterrent to crime, is viewed by many as cruel and inhuman, and oftentimes appears to be particularly directed at racial minorities.

Apr 18 2010 | Read Full Review of The Autobiography of an Execu...

Oprah.com

A riveting memoir by a thinking, feeling lawyer whose clients are on death row.

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California Literary Review

When a meeting with a potential client does not proceed as he would have it, Dow – a Texas defense lawyer for prisoners facing the death penalty – is not above cutting it short and telling the inmate, “Have a nice life, asshole.” Thankfully, Dow is not without redeeming qualities.

Apr 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Autobiography of an Execu...

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