Intermittent rays of hope and ultimate freedom cast some light on an otherwise dark narrative of decades-long despair.

CHASING JUSTICE

MY STORY OF FREEING MYSELF AFTER TWO DECADES ON DEATH ROW FOR A CRIME I DIDN'T COMMIT

An inmate’s harrowing first-person account of a travesty of Texas jurisprudence.

On Aug. 5, 1977, 21-year-old bartender Kerry Cook was arrested in Tyler, Tex., charged with the brutal rape and murder of 21-year-old Linda Jo Edwards. The case against him was circumstantial at best; police had a single fingerprint on the sliding-glass door of Edwards’s apartment, but nothing else to place him at the crime scene and no obvious motive. Everything depended on a jury buying the idea, based on a professional profiler’s testimony, that it was a stranger-on-stranger crime committed by a deranged drifter with a criminal record. Evidence that Cook had actually known the victim was suppressed, and a number of defense witnesses were disallowed over the course of several trials. First convicted in 1978, Cook was raped and sexually abused in prison. He twice attempted suicide; prosecutors in later trials cited this as evidence of his “violent” tendencies. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed his initial conviction on technical grounds in 1991. His second trial in 1992 ended in a hung jury. Tried a third time in 1994, he was again convicted and sentenced to death. With the crucial aid of lawyer Paul Nugent, he obtained another reversal in 1996. “Prosecutorial and police misconduct has tainted this entire matter from the outset,” stated the TCCA decision, which nonetheless left the door open for Tyler authorities to retry Cook so long as they made no use of the discredited evidence. Facing an unprecedented fourth capital-murder trial in 1999, Cook refused to plead guilty to obtain a release but took the state’s bizarre deal for a no-contest plea that released him on time served. He was not exonerated, even though DNA evidence eventually pointed to another logical suspect.

Intermittent rays of hope and ultimate freedom cast some light on an otherwise dark narrative of decades-long despair.

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-057464-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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