2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction
These books create a stunning portrait of contemporary American life.
“Why do we want to kill all the broken people? What is wrong with us, that we think a thing like that can be right?” If you feel called to learn about criminal justice, but don’t necessarily have a firm understanding of how the legal system operates, Just Mercy is exactly the book to read. Not only is it totally accessible, but the stance from which Bryan Stevenson writes is so utterly compassionate that, as he sheds light on example after example of wrongful imprisonment, the question of whether criminals deserve mercy completely dissolves and instead becomes a summons for a more humane and equitable society. Recommended By Aubrey W., Powells.com
If I could be Book Czar, I would make this moving memoir required reading for the entire nation. Stevenson recounts his early career as a young attorney working on multiple death row cases, first for the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee and later as founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. From a purely narrative point of view, Just Mercy is impossible to put down. In alternating chapters, Stevenson weaves multiple stories with one extended and tragic one — that of Walter McMillian, an African American man wrongly accused and convicted of killing a white woman, despite clear and compelling evidence to the contrary. The effect is shattering. This is one of the most heartbreaking and inspiring books I have ever read, and an excellent introduction to the problems of racial inequity in our criminal justice system. Recommended By Lori M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and
a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice — from one of the most
brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice
Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate
and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children
trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of
his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was
sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit.
The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination,
and legal brinksmanship — and transformed his understanding of mercy and
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable
account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving
window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring
argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
“You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man....
The message of this book...is that evil can be overcome, a
difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.” Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review
“As deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty.” The Financial Times
“Searing, moving...Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela.” Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
“Inspiring...a work of style, substance and clarity...Stevenson
is not only a great lawyer, he’s also a gifted writer and storyteller.” The Washington Post
“Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways
more so...a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a
stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable
sometimes yields.” The New York Review of Books
About the Author
Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice
Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York
University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned
prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national
acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of
color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur
Foundation “Genius” Grant.