- File Size: 6028 KB
- Print Length: 417 pages
- Publisher: Plume (September 18, 2012)
- Publication Date: September 18, 2012
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0085DOPBO
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,804 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Life After Death Kindle Edition
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|Length: 417 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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If you have not watched the three "Paradise Lost" documentaries, please do so, as they extensively cover the mind-bogglingly corrupt investigation into the murders of three young boys and the ensuing trial that landed Echols on Death Row and his two co-defendants with life sentences. In particular, the final documentary, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, summarizes the first two films, and includes the events leading up to the trio's long-awaited freedom. Echols devotes very little time to these events because so much information is already available, but readers of his memoir should view them in order to gain a more complete picture of this travesty. Instead, Echols focuses on his impoverished upbringing and his eighteen years on Death Row, as he and others fought for his exoneration. When he writes of the stifling heat in the tiny, tin-roofed shack he inhabited in his childhood, you can almost feel it yourself. When he writes of mosquitoes feasting on his flesh in his prison cell, I could feel my own skin crawl.
The prison life he depicts is much like what we all imagine from movies and TV shows: abusive guards, horrible food, lack of sleep, etc. But Echols informs us that sadistic guards are the norm, rather than the exception. We also learn about the overwhelming filth, both of the prison itself and of some of the inmates due to their less than stellar hygiene practices. His misery in his cell due to cold winters was dwarfed only by the stifling summers. Time ceases to have any meaning other than bringing him closer to execution. Echols also writes in depth of his spiritual journey that led him from being raised Protestant to exploring Catholicism on his own as a teen. His general thirst for knowledge and his keen interest in spirituality led to an ongoing study of Buddhism while he was imprisoned.
It's hard to believe that if not for a couple of filmmakers who decided to make a documentary of the trial of the so-called "satanic" murders of three children, Echols may be dead today. These filmmakers quickly realized that the real story was not about Satanism, but rather it was about the entire Arkansas justice system that was willing to throw away the lives of Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley. They were garbage - poor white trash, so what did it matter? Who cares if a sick child-killer is still on the loose as long as the public's bloodlust was sated? Evidence clearing the involvement of the three was not enough for the courts; it was only years of effort on the parts of Echols' supporters - celebrities and otherwise, and most significantly, his tireless wife, Lorri - that finally forced Arkansas to act. In other words, Echols was freed not by the normal means of little things like evidence, DNA, and alibi, but rather by public shame, scorn, and embarrassment from which Arkansas could no longer hide.
I've finished this book, but I still can't stop thinking about it. It depicts a life that I can barely imagine, but Echols depicts it all unflinchingly and without an ounce of self-pity, to which he is certainly more than entitled. There will never be another memoir like this, not only because Echols' beautiful writing skill is unlikely to be possessed by any other death row inmate, but also because any who have been wrongfully convicted are unlikely to be spared like Echols.
Reading about his childhood is heartbreaking, seeing the man he became is inspirational, especially considerning the circumstances in his young life.
I was shocked at how his parents put him on a bus in Oregon to return to West Memphis when he had no place to go. How could a parent do such a thing.
I have read several books on the WM3 and this by far was the best.
Many have written reviews saying that they wished he would have discussed his thoughts of about being raped in prison. Sexaul assault is an extremly personal thing, not something that you want to discuss with thousands of people. Damian has had his entire life played out in the courts and the media, this is something that is so personal that it is none of our business.
While reading his sisters book, ( don't buy this garbage, I will gladly share the kindle version with you) I couldn't help but think of what would have become of Damian had these murders never taken place. He probably would have continued the cycle that was his heritage. As a result of this horrific case and miscarriage of justice, he in a sense came out a better man then had he never had to go through this living hell. He would never have met his lovely wife who is his rock. He would probably been living a life like that of his sister and mother.
Damian may have grown up in prison but I think he came out a better man then most of us on the "outside".
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