The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town Paperback – Nov 20 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Grisham's first work of nonfiction focuses on the tragedy of Ron Williamson, a baseball hero from a small town in Oklahoma who winds up a dissolute, mentally unstable Major League washout railroaded onto death row for a hometown rape and murder he did not commit. Judging by this author-approved abridgment, Grisham has chosen to present Williamson's painful story (and that of his equally innocent "co-conspirator," Dennis Fritz) as straightforward journalism, eschewing the more familiar "nonfiction novel" approach with its reconstructed dialogues and other adjustments for dramatic purpose. This has resulted in a book that, while it includes such intriguing elements as murder, rape, detection and judicial injustice, consists primarily of objective reportage, albeit shaded by the now-proven fact of Williamson's innocence. The absence of dialogue or character point of view could make for a rather bland audio. Boutsikaris avoids that by reverting to what might be called old-fashioned round-the-campfire storytelling, treating the lengthy exposition to vocal interpretations, subtle and substantial. He narrates the events leading up to the 1982 rape and murder of a young cocktail waitress with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity, moving on to astonishment at the prosecution's use of deceit and false testimony to convict Williamson and Fritz and, eventually, elation at the exoneration of the two innocent men. Throughout, he maintains an appealing conversational tone, an effect made all the more remarkable by the book's nearly total absence of conversation.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
“A gritty, harrowing true-crime story.” —Time
“A triumph.” —Seattle Times
“Grisham has crafted a legal thriller every bit as suspenseful and fast-paced as his best-selling fiction.” —Boston Globe
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Top Customer Reviews
This is Grisham's first non fiction book, and I really didn't know what to expect. It is a true story, based on Ron Williamson's experiences, and it exposes the underbelly of crime, corruption, and police antics. In some ways a muckracking novel, the way Sinclair Lewis's books are.
Also recommended MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides.
It is great to have a dream to pursue, but we must face the fact and move on when we can't achieve that dream sometimes, such attitude requires a balanced strong person, a thing our main character clearly lacked.
Don't get me wrong, when a person with such a difficult personality lives such a load life style, where a good time of the day and night for all it matters is spent in the places the main character used to hang out in, with such habits as mentioned in the book and in details, well you are bound to get into a lot of trouble and it will be more and more difficult for people to help you, especially if one keeps behaving in the way described, if one keeps scaring friends away. Why was this guy out of hundreds chosen for the crime?, yes the guys in the police department were certainly not the best, but with all the issues the main character had and kept having time and time again, he became an irresistible bait.
I think the story is certainly worth telling, and every one of us will extract different lessons, it is probably not as much worth being published, but probably being presented on a TV show like 60min. I sometimes found it hard to sympathize with the main character, or to be surprised with the mishaps he faced.Read more ›
Grisham mentions in several interviews that this was perhaps one of the more difficult books he has written simply because he needed to work much harder to check facts and verify information. As it deals with fairly recent events, the book has attracted quite a bit of media attention and the response of several prominent actors, namely the Ada District Attorney who has launched a self-published website to respond to some of the insinuations that are made about him and it is indeed plausible that in spite of Grisham's work, some of the information is presented in slanted ways. Nevertheless, I found myself puzzled and troubled by the potential errors of the legal system: How can the system get so wrapped up in itself to allow individuals who cannot be guilty to be sentenced to death? The book details some of the rubber stamping that goes on in the courts by the different courts and attorneys who refuse to question judgements made at other levels and makes the system look like a great monster that one is powerless to address properly. After reading this Grisham, you don't want to be falsely accused, you are grateful for DNA analysis, and you wonder how it too can be wrongly or poorly misused.
As a young man, Robert Williamson was an exceptionally skilled baseball player. Thinking himself destined for the major leagues, he began to lead a self-indulgent debauched life style that ultimately would lead to nowhere but trouble, self-destruction and severe mental illness. Robert Williamson and his alleged co-conspirator were definitely not nice people. But neither were they rapists.
"The Innocent Man" is the story of the blind, single-minded quest of the Oklahoma judicial system to arrest, imprison and execute a man for the 1982 rape and murder of a cocktail waitress. It was a very near call but, ultimately, Robert Williamson was proven to be innocent and released before his rapidly nearing date with the executioner.
Even those who believe in either the deterrent or the punishment argument on the pro-side of the capital punishment debate will be un-nerved by this near miss of a system gone so badly wrong.
Unfortunately, the writing in "The Innocent Man" is not as compelling as it might have been give the nature of the subject matter. But it is still quite gripping and certainly important enough that every thinking citizen should read it and make themselves aware that this kind of miscarriage of justice can and does happen.
Most recent customer reviews
If this wasn't a true story, you'd think it was too fantastic to be believable. Crooked cops, crooked lawyers, lying friends and neighbours. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Toni Davies
A true, but almost unbelievable story. Hard to believe that such a thing could happen in this society. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Gil
Couldn't put it down, absolutely fascinating! I live in Canada where the legal system is entirely different. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Johnny Canuck
This was an eye opener. I had no idea that it was possible for an innocent man to be convicted of a crime that he did not commit. Read morePublished 5 months ago by joeyrou
Well written book regarding a sympathetic character. A small town high school Baseball star from a good family. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robert A.
I love all Grisham's fiction but this venture in non-fiction was excellent. How such a travesty occurred is a terrible indictment of people who worked so hard to prosecute two... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Andy Leathwood
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