Paul's Reviews > Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong

Anatomy of Injustice by Raymond Bonner
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Feb 10, 12


I read it in two nights. It blew me away. ANATOMY OF INJUSTICE is about the murder of an elderly white woman in Greenwood, South Carolina in 1982. The crime is described in harrowing detail. The police arrested a simpleminded black man named Edward Lee Elmore and he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in a matter of weeks. It's hard to read these chapters without tears. After years of ineptitude, appeals, setbacks, and meanness, an unlikely hero emerges in the struggle to win justice for Elmore — attorney Diana Holt, whose troubled youth and true grit make her a formidable, if flawed, advocate: she is part Norma Rae, part Helen Prejean, and part Ann Richards: a helluva story unto herself. Her ceaseless toil and emotional investment on behalf of Elmore is inspirational. Thanks to her work, he’s now off death row (after 38 years), but still in prison. Sitting and waiting as the wheels of justice grind on.

Like DEAD MAN WALKING, this book made me so angry and so sad I threw it across the room a couple of times. It makes you want to save somebody, or at least save the soul of those jurisdictions who still put criminals (regardless of their guilt or innocence) to death. Like EXECUTIONER’S SONG, it occasionally achieves the condition of art. Like Grisham’s THE INNOCENT MAN it’s an act of bearing witness. It’s also a history of capital punishment in footnotes and a cry to high heaven about how miscarried justice perpetuates itself.

Bonner is a crusader who writes the cleanest prose you can imagine: I didn’t count a wasted word in this book. Maybe if enough people read it and gang up, South Carolina will be convinced to let Elmore go free for the rest of his natural life.
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