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Defending the Devil: My Story as Ted Bundy's Last Lawyer
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Defending the Devil: My Story as Ted Bundy's Last Lawyer

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  118 ratings  ·  14 reviews
As a brand-new lawyer, Polly Nelson was offered serial-killer Ted Bundy's case as a pro bono project for her prestigious Washington, DC law firm just weeks before he was scheduled to be executed. Defending the Devil is a unique and candid look at the Bundy case and at Nelson's three-year personal battle to balance her duties as a lawyer, her compassion for human life, and ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 1st 1994 by William Morrow & Co
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  118 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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This book covers the Ted Bundy story from a different angle. It describes the 3 year battle Polly Nelson had, as Bundy's lawyer, to try and change his death sentence to a life sentence. She argued that Bundy was actually a manic-depressive who should not have been allowed to represent himself during his trial. He was incompetent in this role and ended up sabotaging his own case. His guilt was never in question just a man's right to live. At times it became bogged down in legal jargon, but this w ...more
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is really the book to read about Ted Bundy.
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Of all the things I've read and watched on Bundy, I didn't expect this book to contain the most graphic description of any of his crimes that I've encountered. Fucking YIKES.

Most of the book was boring, but the parts that were interesting were extremely interesting! Worth the investment of time!

Seems like the most honest and unbiased account of and by Ted that I've come across yet. It was fascinating to hear him trying to describe his own inability to feel love and empathy.
Elizabeth Brophy
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating and incredibly difficult read; rarely have a read a book that made me feel revulsion, sadness, and joy. The pull between the people and the law is hypnotic. A must for true crime fans and students of law.
May 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I can't decide if the author is bravely honest or self serving and a little nuts. Maybe both.

More interesting for the insight it provides into his ordinary humanness than anything else. Despite the fact that she argued (sincerely, it seems) his lack of competence, he does not come across as insane. Unlikable, self-serving, disturbed and disturbing, yes, but not insane.

Detailed legalese weighs the narrative down. Reads like a rough draft or a journal instead of a complete and fully-formed book,
Megan Toomey McBride
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's an interesting book, and very informative. The first half moved a little slow, but it gets better later. I do think the author has a tendency to get a little too into the various legal intracacies, but she generally does a pretty good job explaining Florida law.

I have read plenty of other books on this subject, but I never actually realized before just how little evidence there was against Ted Bundy and how many corners it appears that Florida cut in their haste to execute him. While I do n
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the final book about Bundy that I plan to read. And I think it was best that I read it last. Obviously, Polly Nelson didn't get involved in the case until the last three years of Bundy's life, so the focus of the story was the end of the story. Nelson really cared for Ted, not in the way that other women did; that came across very clearly in her story. She recognized that he was a messed up individual who had done horrific things, and she defended him anyway. All the while knowing how th ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I've read a lot of books about Ted Bundy and this book gave me some insight into information that I had not read before. I didn't realize how bad he sabotaged his case or just how "crazy" he really was. I had always thought that he "allowed" himself to get captured in Florida because it was so different from his MO. I considered that it was getting to be too overwhelming for him in his head and the truth might be very close to that. I still think he was a narcissistic psychopath and used manipul ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this!! While it wasn't what I hoped I was pleasantly surprised! It tended to focus on the law side, and on Mrs. Nelson's life at the time (which I should've expected) and not much on the crimes. It's a good read if you're interested in law or in the processes of law with true crime! I also loved the pictures throughout, the thank-you cards, death warrant, and the pictures of crowds from his execution. ...more
Rebecca- bookworm from Birmingham
A great insight and first hand account into the Bundy saga,
Polly Nelsons insider statement of her time as one of Ted Bundys many lawyers is very absorbing. Whilst it does include what you might call legal jargon, it really is an honest and detailed experience well worth reading.
Whitney Milam
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting but not for anyone but true Bundyphiles.
Bill reilly
May 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Polly Nelson seemed to be born to defend Ted Bundy. The eldest child of a Lutheran family in Minnesota, Nelson always aspired to fight for the underdog. She became a social worker fresh out of college, but the job was emotionally draining. After graduating law school .she specialized in corporate liability and regulation. A fellow attorney, Jeff Robinson, asked her if she would be willing to assist him with a pro bono death penalty case. It was 1986 and the client was Ted Bundy. She lived in Was ...more
A really interesting, informative read. The author writes well; this book is well-organized and even well-copyedited. Nelson explains the legal issues involved quite well and even though the courtroom terminology got pretty dense at times, she never lost me. This is a very-little-known corner of the notorious Bundy story, and the author's approach to Bundy's case was really thought-provoking, with a potentially huge impact on other cases if other attorneys started using it. Ted was never going t ...more
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Out of all the books I have read on Ted Bundy it is the only one that actually shows that yes He Did Kill All Those Women. Other books allude to it, even the ones by Michaud Ted just always uses the third person when discussing the crimes but this one actually shows that he acknowledged in First Person that he did this. It also discusses the amount of month the state of Florida spent in trying to get him executed abt 6 millions dollars, whereas it would have cost abt 1 million to keep him alive ...more
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