Thursday, October 18, 2012

Life After Death by Damien Echols


I am not exactly sure how to review this particular book. I've followed the story of the West Memphis Three (WM3) since 1998. I remember watching the documentary for a class and being outraged at the attitudes of the community and disgusted when the sentencing was handed down.

The lives of many people were forever changed when the three accused were found guilty. The system had failed countless people. Those involved, their families and people moved by what happened.

I strong encourage you to watch the documentaries before reading this book. If you fail to do so -- you will not have any understanding of what is going on and why this case was/is so controversial. It will also give you an opportunity to make your own opinion(s) about the case.

The documentaries are:

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills 
Paradise Lost 2: Revelations 
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory 

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The book is about, Echols life in and out of prison and not about the case. I repeat it is NOT about the case. Echols purposely avoids discussing the case in further detail because he feels the documentaries cover it.

He discloses many details about his life before the guilty verdict. Your heart will ache and you will be full of emotions. Echols does come across as cocky at times but as a reader you have to keep in mind what he has suffered and that in some ways he is much younger then his biological age (Echols is older than me but it many ways seems much younger). 

Echols is also honest and expresses gratitude for those who have helped him along the way. His insight is excellent. You will feel his emotions coming off the pages. 

Set sometime aside to go through this emotional journey with, Echols.

Grade: A

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Overview: [B&N]


In 1993, teenagers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.—who have come to be known as the West Memphis Three—were arrested for the murders of three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas. The ensuing trial was marked by tampered evidence, false testimony, and public hysteria. Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison; while eighteen-year-old Echols, deemed the “ringleader,” was sentenced to death. Over the next two decades, the WM3 became known worldwide as a symbol of wrongful conviction and imprisonment, with thousands of supporters and many notable celebrities who called for a new trial. In a shocking turn of events, all three men were released in August 2011.
Now Echols shares his story in full—from abuse by prison guards and wardens, to portraits of fellow inmates and deplorable living conditions, to the incredible reserves of patience, spirituality, and perseverance that kept him alive and sane while incarcerated for nearly two decades.



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