A Descend­ing Spi­ral: Expos­ing the Death Penal­ty in 12 Essays

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2020

As Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg has not­ed, peo­ple who are well rep­re­sent­ed at tri­al rarely get the death penal­ty. But as Marc Book­man shows in a dozen bril­liant essays, the prob­lems with cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment run far deep­er than just bad rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Explor­ing pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al mis­con­duct, racist judges and jurors, drunk­en lawyer­ing, and exe­cut­ing the inno­cent and the men­tal­ly ill, these essays demon­strate that pre­cious few peo­ple on tri­al for their lives get the fair tri­al the Con­sti­tu­tion demands.

Today, death penal­ty cas­es con­tin­ue to cap­ture the hearts, minds, and blasts of pro­gres­sives of all stripes‚ includ­ing the rich and famous (see Kim Kar­dashi­an’s advo­ca­cy)‚ but few peo­ple with first­hand knowl­edge of Amer­i­ca’s injus­tice sys­tem” have the lit­er­ary chops to bring death penal­ty sto­ries to life.

Enter Marc Book­man. With a voice that is both lit­er­ary and jour­nal­is­tic, the vet­er­an cap­i­tal defense lawyer and sev­en-time Best Amer­i­can Essays’ notable author expos­es the dark absur­di­ties and fatal inani­ties that under­mine the log­ic of the death penal­ty wher­ev­er it still exists.

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