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American Book 426019 The Autobiography of an Execution


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About the Author

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 Project. He lives in Houston, Texas.


Dow (law, Univ. of Houston Law Ctr.; founder & director, Texas Innocence) defends prisoners on death row and is a vocal opponent of the death penalty. In this true-crime narrative, he gives a first-person account of the legal system and capital punishment from multiple perspectives, altering the details of the cases he discusses so they are unrecognizable. The most poignant and central case revolves around a convicted murderer who in all likelihood is innocent but who nonetheless remains on death row because of incompetent lawyers at both the original and state appeal levels. The author himself reads, addditionally speaking to the ways in which these cases have impacted his private life; his passion about his work is evident. A scholarly essay on legal ethics regarding confidential information is followed by an interview with the author. For anyone interested in capital punishment and for all true crime and legal collections of all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/09.-Ed.]-J. Sara Paulk, Fitzgerald-Ben Hill Cty. Lib., GA Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

"I have read much about capital punishment, but David Dow's book leaves all else behind."--Anthony Lewis
"For a lot of good reasons, and some that are not so good, executions in the U.S. are carried out in private. The voters, the vast majority of whom support executions, are not allowed to see them. The Autobiography of an Execution is a riveting and compelling account of a Texas execution written and narrated by a lawyer in the thick of the last minute chaos. It should be read by all those who support state sponsored killing."

--John Grisham, author of The Innocent Man

"David Dow's extraordinary memoir lifts the veil on the real world of representing defendants on death row. It will stay with me a long time."

--Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Nine

"In an argument against capital punishment, Dow's capable memoir partially gathers its steam from the emotional toll on all parties involved, especially the overworked legal aid lawyers and their desperate clients. 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 attorneys, ' but 'about the victims of murder and sometimes their killers.' While trying to maintain a proper balance in his marriage to Katya, a fellow attorney and ballroom dancer, he spells out the maze of legal mumbo-jumbo to get his clients stays or released from confinement in the cases of a hapless Vietnam vet who shot a child, another man who beat his pregnant wife to death and another who killed his wife and children. In the end, Dow's book is a sobering, gripping and candid look into the death penalty."

--Publishers Weekly

"Defending the innocent is easy. David Dow fights for the questionable. He is tormented, but relentless, and takes us inside his struggle with candor and insight, shudders and all."

--Dave Cullen, author of Columbine

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