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A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 10, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“There are many ways to tell the tragic story of America's death rows. Tom Cahill has chosen to show -- through the extraordinary life of one man -- that God is always working everywhere and can bring the most beautiful soul to maturity in even the most horrifying circumstances. If you read his story, you will never forget Dominique Green, nor will you ever feel the same way about our courts, our prisons, and our criminal justice system. This book is a life-changer.”
—Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking

“Dominique Green was a wonderful man whose life demonstrated the power of God to heal and transfigure even the most unlikely people and places. Who could have expected that Texas Death Row would be made into an avenue of divine grace? -- which is exactly what happened through Dominique's instrumentation. Though this is a book that ends in death, it does not end in despair. Read it and discover how even the obscenity of capital punishment can be transformed into an occasion of light and peace.”
—Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa

"A tremendously moving book--all the more effective because of the tempered voice with which Cahill narrates an unspeakable injustice. Dominique Green's personal and moral triumph, prior to his execution under the benighted legal processes of Texas, is portrayed with so much sensitivity, and the racial factor that Cahill emphasizes is conveyed so forcefully, that I expect A Saint On Death Row to become a classic in the growing struggle to cleanse this nation finally of the sin of the death penalty."
—Jonathan Kozol

"A deeply moving narrative about a man transformed as he faced an unjust execution."
—James H. Cone, author of Black Theology and Black Power and Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare?

A Saint on Death Row is not the first book blasting the Texas criminal justice system, and it won't be last. But Cahill's book is one of the most compelling.”
San Antonio Express

“Cahill stimulates deep thought about good and evil, and he is an intelligent, engaging historian…. A Saint on Death Row is an affecting book.”
Dallas Morning News

A Saint on Death Row tells, on one level, the Kafkaesque particulars of one young black man's transmogrifying journey through the justice system to its ultimate punishment. On another level, the book is the story of how a young black man held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day helped inspire a movement for an international moratorium on state-sanctioned executions, helped inspire a U.N. resolution against the death penalty, hosted a pilgrimage by South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu to death row in Huntsville, Tex., and helped transform the lives of the other men with whom he shared death row.
Most powerful, however, is the story of redemption and forgiveness contained in this slim volume. In stunning testimony of the human heart's capability for forgiveness, Bernatte and Andre Lastrapes, the wife and son of the man Dominique Green was executed for allegedly having killed, spoke out about the injustice of Green's trial and bore witness to both Green's personal apotheosis and the inexorably tragic meaninglessness of his execution.
Cahill, author of the popular 'Hinges of History in the Western World' collection (including How the Irish Saved Civilization and The Gift of the Jews) does not write as a polemicist, an expert on the law, or as courtroom dramatist. With deceptively casual prose, Cahill writes of how he came to be personally involved with Green's case and, more deeply, with Green himself. More like a set of extended reflective journal entries—indeed, Cahill's prologue is him quoting from his own written first impressions upon initially meeting Green—the voice in A Saint on Death Row is without the bathos or plaintiveness of a mere death-penalty partisan. It is the voice of a layman looking on with growing disbelief at the machinery of the state as it moves toward taking the life of a young man….
Thomas Cahill's excellent book allows readers to meet Dominique Green and suggests that no one deserves to die like he did.”
Baltimore City Paper

“[P]repare for your level of disturbance to be pushed up a quantum step or two by Tom Cahill's new book, A Saint on Death Row, which mounts a powerful challenge to any notion that all is more or less OK with the administration of criminal justice in the US. Known for books like How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Gift of the Jews, and other charmingly erudite excursions into cultural history, Cahill has produced a very contemporary piece of reportage and observation in his new book. At the center of it is the 'saint' of the title, one Dominique Green, who, once you've gotten to know him in Cahill's pages, is not likely to slip very quickly from your memory.… [I]t's impossible to read Cahill's quiet, straightforward, entirely unforced portrait of Dominique without being moved by it.”
The Daily Beast

“You pick up a book that clocks in at 160 pages and you naturally assume it will be an easy read. But the story of Dominique Green is so tragic, so overwhelming and powerful that I'm not sure Cahill could've padded it even if he'd wanted to…. [T]his is not merely an academic account of miscarried justice. It's a person with a voice lending that voice to someone who has been dehumanized, debased and locked away in a cage to rue the steadily loudening drumbeat of his impending execution…. Cahill's central question lingers like the burn of stomach acid in the back of one's throat: What did we gain—what?—by killing him?”
Paste Magazine

"An impassioned, very personal plea against racism, poverty and the death penalty."
Publishers Weekly

About the Author

THOMAS CAHILL is the author of five volumes in the Hinges of History series: How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Gifts of the Jews, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, and Mysteries of the Middle Ages. They have been bestsellers not only in the United States but also in countries ranging from Italy to Brazil. He and his wife, Susan, also a writer, divide their time between New York City and Rome.


This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; First Edition edition (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385520190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385520195
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. McBride on April 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The story of African pain, particulary African American pain is seldom recognized by the greater society here in North America. Sometimes it is best told to them, as Malcolm X indirectly stated at his Oxford address, by "one of their own" and though you will find those individuals that are blinded by the notion that color or ethnicity does not matter, in this "age of Obama" as my mother a South Carolina native would declare, "the truth will come out in the wash" hence, the book "A Saint on Death Row."

Thomas Cahill does an excellent job in detailing the short but progressive life of Dominique Green, a 30 year old African American executed by lethal injection in Huntsville Texas, a death row factory in Harris County.

The question is asked in the latter part of the book should not be "did he do it?" but "did he receive a fair trial?" and the second question is like it: "Were his subsequent encounters with the law fair?"

A very interesting read.
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Format: Hardcover
I knew this would be a wrenching story, but also expected it to be worthwhile judging from the endorsements by Sister Helen Prejean, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Jonathon Kozol. Of course I'm already opposed to the death penalty, but this tragic story strengthened my conviction and also provided a terrific example of the travesty of justice that the state of Texas is infamous for. Just when you think such injustice must certainly come to an end once the details of it get out, you learn that in fact it hasn't stopped: poor minorities still comprise the overwhelming percentage of state executions, and they don't get fair trials if they have the misfortune to be in Texas, Oklahoma, or the other states that so strongly favor capital punishment but shortchange the public defender requirements. The image of the "sleeping defense attorney" is by now a cliche, but indeed, courts still make use of these incompetent and disengaged law practitioners. Furthermore, once they're assigned to a capital case, it's impossible to replace them with competent counsel--one of those legal technicalities.
Well, as for the story, of course Dominique Green is indeed a saintly person, who in spite of an almost unbelievably brutal upbringing, grows to sweetly forgive those who abused and condemned him and possibly those who wrongly accused him, as well as forging bonds of love with the victim's family (also black), who realized that he did not receive a fair trial and that he had no one to look out for him. His own mother, who was known to be mentally ill, even called for his execution during his trial!--which elicited the pity of the victim's wife, herself also a mother. But Green forgave the people who wronged him and used his years in prison to teach himself to write and think eloquently.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent resource for those of us who are against the death penalty because it shows some of the many existing flaws in our criminal justice system, flaws that are especially cruel towards indigent defendants. It is obvious from reading this book that Dominique Green did not get a fair trial, and even though the family of the victim (Andrew Lastrapes Jr. was shot in October 1992) did not want Dominique killed, he was still executed in October of 2004. As far as the criminal justice system was concerned, in this case justice was served, because Dominique was poor, black, and unimformed about the particulars of his case. To make matters worse, he was appointed a nonchalant court appointed defense attorney and the psychologist who testified in court was known to have a biased view of the propensity of minorities to commit certain crimes.

I was against the death penalty way before reading this book, but now I am even more convinced that we must do away with this practice, not only because of the probability of killing someone who is not guilty, but also because from my understanding of Jesus' teachings, you cannot redeem society with the doctrine of an-eye-for-an-eye.

Great book, I highly recommend it!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Thomas Cahill is obviously against capital punishment and that is clear from the beginning of the book right to the end. Having said that he does a very good job of demonstrating how the system in Texas is so deeply flawed that it raises the possibility of executing an innocent person. I speak as a supporter of capital punishment. As such for every person like this I can argue for John Wayne Gacey and Tim McVeigh and many other evil people who received justice thanks to capital punishment. Furthermore the American public agrees with me.

While I do agree with his assertion that Texas goes about capital punishment all wrong. They are fixated on execution, not justice. If the family of the man Dominique Green killed asked for his release, that should have been it. Capital punishment should be used in extraordinary cases not like Texas does with every third rate poor person who couldn't afford a good lawyer.

Dominique Green was no saint and what he did was terrible and in some essence prison saved him. Still the manner by which Texas does its criminal justice system is an embarrassment and while I don't agree with Cahill's assertion that the death penalty is always wrong, it is not! I found this book moving.
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