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Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure Hardcover – June 11, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Intense yet compassionate, Killing McVeigh is a window into the horror, trauma and outrage experienced by the survivors and family members of the 168 victims murdered in the Oklahoma City bombing. This important volume thoughtfully chronicles the challenges encountered in the victims' quest for healing, testifies to the importance of attending to anger and grieving, and affirms the continuation of life in the aftermath of murder and loss. Madeira provides us with a blueprint for reengaging with closure and healing, penetrating glib rhetoric to chronicle both the blessings of friendship and community and the wrenching experiences of incessant media crisis coverage and capital proceedings, while identifying new challenges that confront us in this age of terrorism."
-Sister Helen Prejean,author of Dead Man Walking

"Madeira's book does a great service to the nation because it helps explain, using a tragedy and a trial we all remember, how differently victims of crime react to the legal process that takes hold in a high-profile case.”-The Atlantic

"This is an important book . . . . Madeira's thoughts on closure and the workings of memory are provocative, interesting, and deserve attention."-Choice

"Clearly written and persuasive, this is an important contribution to the literature of closure."-Harry Charles,Library Journal

"Sixteen years after the horror of the Oklahoma City bombing, it may now be possible to examine that dark day with some objectivity. In Killing McVeigh, Professor Madeira offers a faithful account of what followed through the words of victims and survivors. Her analysis shows how the death penalty forced so much energy and focus to be put on McVeigh, and how difficult it is to make sense of such a tragedy."
-Richard C. Dieter,Executive Director, Death Penalty Information Center

"Killing McVeigh confronts us with a kind of reality that few of us ever experience. What Madeira achieves is the appreciation of a reality that is at once known and unknown. She accomplishes this through the painstaking detailing of survivors' narratives, making it more difficult for us to hold this knowledge at a distance so we remain safe, untouched by tragedy. Her work reminds us that we are never completely beyond the reach of terror and once traumatized, the wounds are there and unremitting. Yet, she does not leave us without hope. Madeira's detailed, first [hand] narratives of grief and adaptation provide a very personal view . . . of resoluteness, situated in one of the most disturbing chapters of our collective history."-Ronald C. Naso

"Madeira proves a sensitive, nuanced, and empathetic witness to the painful journeys of the [Oklahoma City] survivors' and victims' families."-Contemporary Psychology

"Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether the execution of murderers can offer 'closure' to the victims’ loved ones. Finally, we have a study that has investigated the largest, most media-saturated mass murder and execution in recent times—the Oklahoma City bombing and the execution of Timothy McVeigh. Madeira’s in-depth, fair-minded, and sensitive account opens a window for us into the struggles of those affected and explores the complicated role that our public institutions of criminal justice play in the complex and difficult work of reconstructing life after atrocity."-Carol Steiker,Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

"Important, comprehensive, and insightful analysis."-Rutgers

"Suitable reading for professionals, encompassing criminal justice, news media, and mental health professionals."-Metapsychology

About the Author

Jody Lyneé Madeira is Associate Professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (June 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814796109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814796108
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marty A. Michelson on September 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The title encapsulates the book. That is not my way of saying that the book is not worth reading! Indeed, I give the book 5 stars for what it does provide - and how it does explore its content!

The book is a somber reflection on the fact that - for some healing to become reality for victims - other ways of narrating their lives, re-membering [sic] their identity and reconstituting their future need to become viable - set over against the myth that taking another life brings life back for those who have lost a loved one!

This book confirms with its case-study - and with keen insight from Jody Lynee Madeira, what she has learned about the inability to find closure, as she says, "this side of the grave" (page 43). For Madiera, closure must include many things including, "learning to live with new, gaping, painful holes in one's life . . . . pulling together a new self-identity, the yearning to move from victim to survivor" (page 41).

Madiera achieves her purpose. The book is good. And, for an attorney presenting the "facts" - the book is helpful. And yet, I was left frustrated with her full analysis and her final paragraphs. I have a vested interest in issues of remembrance, reconciliation and peacemaking - with work I engage in University, Counseling, and Pastoral settings in Oklahoma City. I lived in Oklahoma City in 1995 - and heard the bomb explode from miles away, April 19, 1995. Like many others in OKC, I was engaged in community work & conversation about what happened & how we could process healing. I lived in Colorado in 1996 & 1997 - when McVey was on trial there - since the court agreed a fair trial could not be given in Oklahoma. I have lived again in Oklahoma for the past 15 years.
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Format: Hardcover
This has to be one of the most comprehensive book written about the victims families and survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing incident. Ms. Madeira, an attorney, skillfully goes inside their minds and extracts raw, heartfelt and honest, never-before-heard stories of that fateful day and its aftermath.

It's an academic, intelligent exploration into the lives of those survivors and the victims families touching on issues I never even thought about. For instance the conflict between those who actually suffered the death of a loved one and those who escaped death.

I felt like I got up close and personal as I read their sad, yet powerful stories. Ms. Maderia must have had the full trust, faith and confidence of the victims to have them open up with such honesty.

Intelligently written, and expertly crafted this book opens one's mind to issues that explore what exactly is "closure" and what are the processes of healing. Issues such as "survivor's guilt" and to what extent the execution brought satisfaction to those involved are thoroughly examined.

If you want to go beyond the headlines and understand the variety of coping mechanisms, the pain, loss and inner-strength and personal stories of those that suffered in one of the worst acts of terror in our nation's history, this book is for you.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By DH Callahan on November 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If I had wanted to read a textbook on closure after a traumatic event I would have done it in school. This reads like a psychology academic book so if you want that great if you want info on the event itself as a part of history this is not for you.
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