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Extended Audio Sample Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong Audiobook, by Raymond Bonner Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.28571428571429 out of 54.28571428571429 out of 54.28571428571429 out of 54.28571428571429 out of 54.28571428571429 out of 5 4.29 (21 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Raymond Bonner Narrator: Mark Bramhall Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2012 ISBN: 9781470806736
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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.”

    Fortune

  • “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.”

    Economist

  • “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.”

    Salon.com

  • “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.”

    Atlantic

  • “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.”

    Booklist

  • “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 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 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 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 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! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 1/21/2014

    " Amazingly gut-wrenching true account of Edward Lee Elmore, an innocent man convicted of murder, and the lawyer who has spent much of her life working for his freedom. More heartbreaking than the fact that an innocent man has spent 3 decades of his life in jail--much of it on death row--is the fact that thousands of people, perhaps millions, have "assumed" his guilt based on what the inept and corrupt lawyers in one small town put forth as truth. Even the coroner based her results on what one man with an agenda put forth as fact, with no proof whatsoever. If this book tells the truth, it should change the way we as Americans feel about the death penalty, if not on moral grounds, on legal. I know it's changed my mind and given me much to think about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynne | 1/9/2014

    " 3.75 I've had this book on my shelf for a while....I think I read about it in the NYTimes. It seemed like the right time to read it because of an unfair legal situation I've become involved with--not nearly this serious but infuriating just the same. This story is disturbing, and it should be. I did not expect to "run into" one of my law school classmates in this book, so that was a pleasant surprise "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Margie French | 1/6/2014

    " Blatent injustice based on when and where a crime was committed. Written like a novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shawn | 1/5/2014

    " I had high hopes for this book: topic is right down my alley, and Bonner has a wonderful reputation. But the prose is really leaden, and the whole book seems to lack much in the way of narrative flair. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/22/2013

    " Missing the passionate writing one would expect from the subject matter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vicki | 12/12/2013

    " A well-written tale of a man unjustly convicted of murder and sent to death row (three time)! This would be a great book for discussion! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine | 11/19/2013

    " Very well written, and deeply upsetting. I am going to be thinking of this dreadful case, best described by the book's apt title, for a very long time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Ellen | 9/1/2013

    " Even though the book end with him still in prison, he got out this March!!! Yay! Finally, freedom! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 False Millennium | 8/31/2013

    " Only reinforces what we know about just how mangled the justice system can be. Not just botched evidence or testimony, but dirty footprints from start to finish. The case is still pending. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 6/20/2013

    " This was particularly interesting because it is a non-fictional account of a murder and subsequent trials in Greenwood, SC. Jim and I know most of the legal community that was prominent in the accounting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Liz | 6/15/2013

    " A must-read for anyone who continues to defend the death penalty. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paula Burke | 4/6/2013

    " This is an excellent, but sad, portrayal of indigent defense and police misconduct. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie | 2/6/2013

    " Fantastic book! Well written with good flow. Everyone who supports the death penalty should be required to read this! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindaellen | 12/19/2012

    " An amazing book and a fascinating read. Can get a bit dry in spots but so informative and so well done. A must-read in my opinion!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Philip Turner | 8/25/2012

    " A powerful indictment of the failures in our criminal justice system. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leslie | 6/16/2012

    " A thoughtful examination of the case against the death penalty, using one particular miscarriage of justice in South Carolina as the exemplar. Bonner's no Grisham but his prose is readable and his arguments persuasive. "

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About the Author

Raymond Bonner earned his JD from Stanford and subsequently worked for Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen Litigation Group and the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. In the course of his career as a journalist, he has been a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, where he shared a Pulitzer Prize, and a staff writer at the New Yorker.

About the Narrator

Mark Bramhall has won eighteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been a finalist for the Audiobook Publishers Association’s prestigious Audie Award for best narration. He has been named by Publishers Weekly and AudioFile magazine among their “Best Voices of the Year” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. He is also an award-winning actor whose acting credits include off-Broadway, regional, and many Los Angeles venues as well as television, animation, and feature films. He has taught and directed at the American Academy of Dramatic Art.