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Extended Audio Sample Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong, by Raymond Bonner Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.00438596491228 out of 54.00438596491228 out of 54.00438596491228 out of 54.00438596491228 out of 54.00438596491228 out of 5 4.00 (228 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Raymond Bonner Narrator: Mark Bramhall Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From Pulitzer Prize winner Raymond Bonner comes the gripping story of a grievously mishandled murder case that put a twenty-three-year-old man on death row.
In January 1982, an elderly white widow was found brutally murdered in the small town of Greenwood, South Carolina. Police immediately arrested Edward Lee Elmore, a semiliterate, mentally retarded black man with no previous felony record. His only connection to the victim was having cleaned her gutters and windows, but barely ninety days after the victim’s body was found, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.
Elmore had been on death row for eleven years when a young attorney named Diana Holt first learned of his case. After attending the University of Texas School of Law, Holt was eager to help the disenfranchised and voiceless—she herself had been a childhood victim of abuse. It required little scrutiny for Holt to discern that Elmore’s case reeked of injustice—plagued by incompetent court-appointed defense attorneys, a virulent prosecution, and evidence that was both misplaced and contaminated . It was the cause of a lifetime for the spirited, hardworking lawyer. Holt would spend more than a decade fighting on Elmore’s behalf.
With the exemplary moral commitment and tenacious investigation that have distinguished his reporting career, Bonner follows Holt’s battle to save Elmore’s life and shows us how his case is a textbook example of what can go wrong in the American justice system. He reviews police work, evidence gathering, jury selection, work of court-appointed lawyers, latitude of judges, iniquities in the law, prison informants, and the appeals process. Throughout, the actions and motivations of both unlikely heroes and shameful villains in our justice system are vividly revealed.           
Moving, enraging, suspenseful, and enlightening, Anatomy of Injustice is a vital contribution to our nation’s ongoing and increasingly important debate about inequality and the death penalty.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Most of us Americans don’t have a clue about how the criminal court system really operates, and we need a good writer like Bonner to take us through, step by step. But be warned: If you have pressing duties waiting, don’t begin reading this book. This is seductive storytelling at its best.”

    Sister Helen Prejean, New York Times bestselling author of Dead Man Walking

  • “Bonner’s gripping true-crime thriller shines a shocking light on American justice. I couldn’t put it down.”

    Jane Mayer, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Race, sex, and murder in a Southern town are the explosive core of Ray Bonner’s legal drama. Anatomy of Injustice is also a brave dispatch from the trenches of a forgotten war over capital punishment. Told with a reporter’s tenacity, a lawyer’s acumen, and an advocate’s zeal, this book is both a gripping narrative and a chilling indictment of America’s justice system.”

    Tony Horwitz, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist

  • “Ray Bonner uses his skill as a lawyer and journalist to take us on a fascinating journey deep into the heart of the criminal justice system, where the stakes could not be higher or the failures more disturbing. Anatomy of Injustice reads like a novel, but it is, tragically, all too true.”

    Linda Greenhouse, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist

  • “In Holt’s relentless investigation, Bonner has found a way to turn this sad, sordid story into an utterly engrossing true-crime tale…It’s possible there was only one Edward Lee Elmore…one person who because of the color of his skin or the poverty of his circumstances or the weakness of his defense counsel or the actions of an overzealous prosecutor was sentenced to die for a crime he didn’t commit. But in a nation premised on the promise of justice, that’s one too many.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A revealing look at how police and courts grapple with death penalty cases…If you are a staunch advocate of the death penalty…you’re precisely the person who should read Anatomy of Injustice.”


  • “Gripping and enraging…Bonner’s book is not a treatise against the death penalty. Rather, it is a look at what happens in America’s justice system when justice is absent.”


  • “A genuine whodunit, a page-turner, and a tale of redemption. And it’s all true. For all that, however, Anatomy of Injustice is also a blistering indictment of the death penalty…Bonner delivers a crackerjack feat of storytelling that steadily administers the truth about capital punishment like a slow, toxic IV drip…In his expert hands, the twists and turns of Elmore’s appeals, and the gradual discovery of the travesties in the original investigation and trial by Holt’s team, make for excruciatingly suspenseful reading.”


  • “Accomplished and meticulously researched…Convincing…As a piece of reporting, the book is masterful. Bonner builds the story, and his argument, carefully, rarely editorializing, mixing in a précis of capital punishment in the United States…Bonner’s book is an important addition to the body of evidence against the death penalty.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Masterful…Eloquent, important, and accessible…The book of the century about the death penalty.”


  • “Fascinating…Dexterous…Well-researched…Bonner’s description of decades of bungling is a reminder of the ways class and race can shape outcomes in the American legal system.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • “The investigation…makes for a gripping read and exposes some outrageous failures of American justice.”

    Entertainment Weekly (“The Must List”)

  • “Fascinating…Anatomy of Injustice moves as swiftly as a great courtroom thriller, and Bonner’s astutely observed characters are as memorable as any you’re likely to encounter in a John Grisham–penned bestseller.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • “A lucid, page-turning account…Elmore’s defense winds through nearly three decades of legal maneuverings as suspenseful as the investigation of the mysterious crime itself. Painstakingly researched by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bonner, the case illustrates in fascinating and wrenching specificity the widely acknowledged inequality and moral failings of the death penalty, while illuminating the less understood details of a criminal justice system deeply compromised by race and class. Indeed, Bonner’s ability to succinctly and vividly incorporate the relevant case history and explain the operative legal procedures and principles at work—including the bizarre way in which court-acknowledged innocence is not necessarily enough to spare a life on death row—makes this not only a gripping human story but a first-rate introduction to the more problematic aspects of American criminal law.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Those interested in human rights, issues of race, and inner workings of the US legal system—not to mention true crime fans—will want to read this book.”

    Library Journal

  • “Far-ranging in its implications, thoughtful, and utterly absorbing, this book is a fine example of involving narrative nonfiction.”


  • “A powerfully intimate look at how the justice system works—or doesn’t work—in capital cases.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Anatomy of Injustice demonstrates dramatically and shockingly what bad lawyers are capable of doing and is an inspiring example of what a good one can do. For that alone, law schools should assign it to every entering student.”

    Steven Engelberg, managing editor, ProPublica

  • “Raymond Bonner’s Anatomy of Injustice is a powerful and poignant analysis of the case of Edward Lee Elmore. Bonner’s voice is a profound force for truth and justice in our difficult times!”

    Cornel West

  • “Reading Ray Bonner’s compelling account of a grossly botched murder case, I was overcome by outrage at the state of our criminal justice system. Rigorously researched and powerfully told, Anatomy of Injustice could—and should—change the national debate on the death penalty.”

    Michael Massing

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Salem | 2/14/2014

    " I reviewed Anatomy of Injustice here. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Brigid Kuehn Beachler | 2/8/2014

    " An unbelievably good exploration of the complete corruption of death penalty trials. It's hard to put this one down. You'll be furious when you finish. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by D'Anne | 2/8/2014

    " This book will make you want to punch the entire state of South Carolina in the face. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Emily | 1/28/2014

    " This is a book I tried to get everyone I know to read. If you want to know what is wrong with the American justice system, especially in the south, read this. A horrifying expose of a legal system in which a man (usually, as in this case, black)is wrongly convicted of a crime and sentenced to death. When his innocence is uncovered, he is still at risk of being executed because only a technical mistake (NOT innocence!) can get a verdict overturned. Innocent people are actually still executed in this country even though they have been proven innocent! Yikes! "

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