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Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610390296
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610390293
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Michelle Alexander, legal scholar and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Life After Murder challenges us to do the unthinkable––view those accused of horrible crimes as worthy of our concern. Nancy Mullane, a white woman who was once just as ignorant about the real world of crime and punishment as the typical television viewer, takes us on a remarkable journey behind bars. Through the stories of five unforgettable men, we are reminded of the power and possibility of redemption, as well as the nearly unforgiveable crime our nation has committed: treating some human beings as disposable.”

Amy Bach, author of Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court and executive director, Measures for Justice
“What happens when men who have committed heinous crimes are released from prison? Nancy Mullane first met her five characters while they were serving life sentences for murder. She persuaded corrections officials to give her unheard of access to the inmates. Then, in an extraordinary turn of events, Mullane documented their unexpected release back into society. Her remarkable on-the-ground reporting should elicit soul-searching from the Left, Right, and Center. If these five former inmates can lead responsible, productive lives after decades in maximum-security prisons, can they show us the way toward a new policy that combines fiscal responsibility, public safety, and genuine remorse? Read this unusual story, and let the debate begin.…”

Kirkus Review
“A radio journalist immerses herself in the lives of five murderers incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison in California. NPR reporter and producer Mullane received remarkable cooperation from the prison staff as well as her subjects as they sought parole for good behavior and changed character…. An impressive investigative work with interesting findings that tend to contradict conventional wisdom.”

Publishers Weekly
“Can a murderer be redeemed? This is Mullane’s central theme in her revealing book of five murderers who all served lengthy sentences in California’s notorious San Quentin Prison, now seeking to live out the remainder of their tainted lives without condemnation or reproach. Without any attempt to excuse their crimes, Mullane offers a highly charged exposé of this quintet of hopeful ex-cons battered by a wicked tangle of red tape and penal regulations, along with an unsympathetic outside world that refuses to either forget or forgive their transgressions. With their fates in the hands of the governor and the parole board, very few lifers are released, Mullane writes, and often wait up to 15 years between parole hearings. Boasting gripping, top-notch journalism, Mullane pierces the myth of the unredeemable killer with these portraits of troubled men in a society that fears and reviles them.”

Columbia Journalism Review
“[Mullane’s] account manages to put human faces on people who are too often demonized by the media—and then forgotten. As its title suggests, Life After Murder makes a strong argument that a sane sentencing policy should address the reality that, long after even the most terrible sins of youth, people can change.”  

The Last Hunger Season is a beautiful story, and readers will find themselves pulling for these farmers to make it…. Thurow makes it clear this is the solution for Africa’s repeated food crises. There are challenges—training a whole continent of farmers, adequate storage for grains, better seeds, and transportation to bigger markets—but they are all surmountable with the will and resources. These farmers have experienced their last hunger season. There is no reason why the rest of the world’s one billion hungry people can’t do the same.”


San Francisco Chronicle
“As Mullane shows through her immersion reporting into the lives of five murderers - before they killed, while imprisoned and after their parole - nothing is simple.”
Baltimore City Paper
“Life After Murder is as much a study of jarring re-entries as it is a chronicle of redemption and hope. But it’s also the story of Mullane’s own transformation from frightened observer to cheerleading sympathizer. The Nancy Mullane who dines easily with parolee Reed, invites convicts home for dinner with her family, and finds herself emotionally invested in their triumphs is a far cry from the woman who approached San Quentin with such quavering timidity in the opening chapter—a woman acutely aware both of her own vulnerabilities and the imperviousness of surroundings which were, for her, only temporary…. Reading along—at home, out and about, somewhere you choose to be—you may find yourself undergoing a similar change.”

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“It's the relationships Mullane builds, and the stories she tells -- particularly those of the five paroled murderers who compose the central focus of the book -- that move the book beyond policy analysis and into something profoundly human…. Their stories are complicated and compelling. When these men meet obstacles, as they surely do, you will be shocked by your desperation to turn the pages and learn that things work out for them.”

Catholic San Francisco
“[Life After Murder] brings out in a unique way the humanity of America’s millions of prisoners serving sentences for murder."

Buffalo News
“A poignant, enlightening look at ‘Life After Murder’…. [Mullane] makes no excuses nor seeks sympathy for her subjects.”

Washington Post
Life After Murder provides a revealing glimpse into the prison system in California,…. [Mullane] builds a convincing case for a reexamination of parole policies for reformed inmates [and] captures moments of startled reentry with vivid detail.”

About the Author

Nancy Mullane develops, reports, and produces feature stories for Public Radio International’s This American Life, National Public Radio, and the NPR affiliate KALW News-Crosscurrents in San Francisco. With the support of the Open Society Foundation, she is producing a two-hour, four-part, radio documentary telling the stories of men and women convicted of murder which will air nationally in 2012. She is a member of the Society for Professional Journalists, the Association of Independents in Radio, and the International Women’s Media Foundation. In 2011, Nancy was the recipient of a National Edward R. Murrow Award.

More About the Author

Nancy Mullane is a writer, journalist and editor. As Executive Producer of the national radio program, Life of the Law, she works collaboratively with a team of editors, reporters, producers and scholars to create rich audio programs about law in American society. In addition, Nancy produces feature stories for Public Radio International's This American Life, National Public Radio and the NPR affiliate KALW News-Crosscurrents in San Francisco.

Life After Murder won the 2013 Media for Just Society Book Award. In 2011, Nancy was the recipient of a National Edward R. Murrow Award, and in 2009 she was awarded a Soros Justice Media Fellowship by the Open Society Foundations.

Nancy is a member of the Society for Professional Journalists, the Association of Independents in Radio, and the International Women's Media Foundation. She lives in San Francisco quite near the Golden Gate Bridge with her husband, Max, and is writing her second non-fiction book. It's a secret.

Customer Reviews

This book is an eye opener.
Only one section of the book bogged down a little bit with too much detail, but all in all, it is a five star read.
PDX Bailey
Congratulations to Nancy Mullane!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert F. Starzel on July 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Nancy Mullane's "Life After Murder" bears the mark of remarkable journalism. It omits pity (which undermines many books and articles on tough subjects) and it comes without pride, urging no "shoulds" and "ought tos". She asks probing and difficult questions and pursues answers. Yet one feels viscerally the emotions which she naturally experienced. Her gripping description of finding herself alone with four murderers in a room with no one knowing why they were there leaves no doubt about the courage it took to start this quest. And the reader can understand why the five men whose lives she investigated became her friends, for just as they became trustworthy by learning to manage their lives, so could they gauge precisely upon whom they might rely. This writer is honest to the core and empathic in vision. The subjects of the book were supremely lucky to be found by her.

This book does not force positions but leaves open questions about the process which would assure us that murderers who have set their feet firmly on the road to redemption are given a chance to be productive citizens rather than costly inmates. One clear conclusion emerges: governors should not be asked to superimpose their political will over the opinions of parole boards. Yet unasked is whether we need a way for parole boards to achieve that level of professionalism and reliability that allows governors to ignore the power handed them by the people and intervene only in egregious or close cases. Citizens voted because of their ignorance about lifers. If Mullane's book is widely read those same citizens might even ask if the jailors' opinions should receive greater weight in the parole process. We are all in her debt for this eye-opening book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mak3112 on March 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this work, but found myself just wanting to get to the end of the story to learn how these five men made out. Don't get me wrong, their stories are interesting and I was highly sympathetic and moved by their plight and the ethical challenges they raised. However, the editing of the book was poor, revealing Mullane's tendency to repeat herself--a lot. What was most distracting was the way in which her voice and experience getting to know these men overshadowed their stories at times. It felt that the book was about her journey getting to know them, rather than their journey through the prison system.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Beth Sanders on July 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Absorbing narrative about five men who believed in our criminal justice system and the small hope they were offered when they were sentenced for murder to "life with the possibility of parole." These men have spent most of their adult lives working to change and make amends for the crimes they committed, trusting they might one day earn their freedom, despite the nearly impossible odds that they would ever be released from prison. But proving to the world they deserve a second chance doesn't necessarily mean they will get it.

Mullane's book carries us along on the path she followed as she came to know "murderers," not as the monsters of our imaginings, but as the flesh and blood human beings they really are. She reveals the disconnect between a penal system that allows a person the "possibility of parole" (i.e., someone who is redeemable) and a society whose prejudices make it nearly impossible for that redemption to be acknowledged.

Nancy Mullane knows how to tell a story and, more to the point, how to get real people to tell their own stories and have the rest of us care.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By kjw on August 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have been just like a lot of people who wanted people who killed and injured others to stay in prison forever. I know it is serious, has touched my life also and is beyond what most people can comprehend. Yet there really are some who if given the opportunity, their willingness and with professional help and volunteers in this case can create an excempliary example of all programs to better themselves and create a new and safer community for society than at San Quentin Prison. One long term inmate said to me that he had lived in prisons most of his life and there were more programs in San Quentin than in all of the prisons he had been to. He had learned to identify with himself as his crimes and I explained to him that isn't who you are but that is what you did. He kind of looked at me sort of stunned and already had a mentor at the prison to help him work some of this out. He couldn't figure out why anyone would even care about him with all of the bad things he had done.

If you have met some of the prisoners who really have decided to better themselves, and I stress that here A LOT, one might be your son, your nephew or cousin. They were 17 or 18 years old, with a friend or family member at the wrong place and the wrong time and it wasnn't planned. Most of us see the reports on TV where it was and it is usually depicted as planned and it usually isn't in some of these cases. We are not talking about the death row prisoners WITHOUT THE RIGHT TO PAROLE, THE group we are speaking of is the best of all stories.

These some,not all mind you who were teenagers who were hanging with the wrong people, at the wrong place at the wrong time and have have completed most programs with integrity, no citations in prison and have every intention to help the community...
Read more ›
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