Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Life after Death by Damien Echols

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press; First Edition edition (September 18, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0399160205
  • Author: Damien Echols
  • Cover art: I like the color contrast and how the tattoos sand out.
  •  Over all rating: *****
  • Obtained: My personal book shelf.

Life after death by Damien Echols
Reviewed by Moirae the fates book reviews

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.

In these pages, Echols reveals himself a brilliant writer, infusing his narrative with tragedy and irony in equal measure: he describes the terrors he experienced every day and his outrage toward the American justice system, and offers a firsthand account of living on Death Row in heartbreaking, agonizing detail. Life After Death is destined to be a riveting, explosive classic of prison literature.(Synopsis taken from goodreads)

Where to start? First off memoirs are very difficult to review as you are reviewing a persons life in a way and it can feel as if you are passing judgment on someone else life and experiences.  
Over all, I did enjoy reading this, and that in of it's self sounds morbid. It should be stated that I have always been a supporter of Damien, Jason and Jessie ever since I first found out about the case. If you have read Echols' first book Almost Home then you will be very familiar with some of the stories in this first part of this book. Which isn't a big deal and is to be expected since the only outside life he had was up until the age of eighteen.

There was a lot in this book that was hard to read, some of the stories he shares from his time on Death Row are too horrible to imagine. I read a lot of fiction and have never come across anything so sickening and I read a lot of horror. It just goes to show how real life can be worse then fiction. 

I do wish that there was more of an explanation on the Alford plea, but Echols explains how much of a shock it was, so it's understandable why there wasn't a lot of explanation on  it.
The one thing that did bother me a little was how there were a few times when he would repeat a story or a small part of it in different chapters, but at the same time, it flowed so I guess that was why it was in there twice or he needed to drive a point home.

I did learn a lot more in this one then in his first book though, the documentaries and other books on the case do leave a lot of information about how the WMPD treated Echols long before the case and how he was always harassed by them.

The best parts of the book are the parts where he talks about his wife Lorri. Just reading it you can tell just how much he loves her and how deep that love is. It truly is the only beautiful thing in a very sad and depressing book. If you are thinking about reading this book or if you are a supporter of Damien, Jason and Jessie or even if you're just curious about Death Row in Arkansas then I would highly recommend this book. 

So say we all!

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