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Extended Audio Sample Life after Death, by Damien Echols Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,366 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Damien Echols Narrator: Damien Echols Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In 1993, teenagers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.—who have come to be known as the West Memphis Three—were arrested for the murders of three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas. The ensuing trial was marked by tampered evidence, false testimony, and public hysteria. Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison; while eighteen-year-old Echols, deemed the “ringleader,” was sentenced to death. Over the next two decades, the WM3 became known worldwide as a symbol of wrongful conviction and imprisonment, with thousands of supporters and many notable celebrities who called for a new trial. In a shocking turn of events, all three men were released in August 2011.

Now Echols shares his story in full—from abuse by prison guards and wardens, to portraits of fellow inmates and deplorable living conditions, to the incredible reserves of patience, spirituality, and perseverance that kept him alive and sane while incarcerated for nearly two decades.

In these pages, Echols reveals himself as a brilliant writer, infusing his narrative with tragedy and irony in equal measure: he describes the terrors he experienced every day and his outrage toward the American justice system, and he offers a firsthand account of living on Death Row in heartbreaking, agonizing detail. Life after Death is destined to be a riveting, explosive classic of prison literature.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “His story will appall, fascinate, and render you feeble with tears and laughter. A brilliant memoir to battle literary giants of the caliber of Jean Genet, Gregory David Roberts, and Dostoevsky.”

    Johnny Depp

  • “Damien Echols spent eighteen years on death row for murders he did not commit. Somehow, in the depths of his unspeakable nightmare, he found the courage and strength not only to survive, but to grow, to create, to forgive, and to understand. Life after Death is a brilliant, haunting, painful, and uplifting narrative of a hopeless childhood, a wrongful conviction, a brutal incarceration, and the beginning of a new life.”

    John Grisham, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “Wrongfully imprisoned by willfully ignorant cops, prosecutors and judge, Damien Echols draws on all his wits and his unique view of humanity to survive eighteen years on death row. My admiration for him, and the strength of his spirit, increases with every page.”

    Sir Peter Jackson, Academy Award–winning director

  • “The life of Damien Echols is a journey similar to that of the metal that becomes a samurai’s sword. Heated and pounded until it becomes hardened, it can hold its edge for centuries. It is incredible that Damien endured and survived one of the most tragic miscarriages of American justice, and emerged such a centered, articulate, and extraordinary man and writer. Life after Death proves that he paid dearly for his wisdom.”

    Henry Rollins, former front man of Black Flag

  • “A dual memoir, partly about Mr. Echols’ boyhood and partly about his prison life…[It is] so well told that Life after Death sometimes sounds like the work of a ghostwriter. But the book reprints enough…pages of Mr. Echols’ prison writing to make it very clear that the literary talent is entirely his…A haunting book.”

    New York Times

  • “[An] evocative, chilling memoir.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Exceptional…Echols is at heart a poet and a mystic, and he has written not just a quickie one-off book to capitalize on a lurid news story, but rather a work of art that occasionally bears a resemblance to the work of Jean Genet…Essential reading for anyone interested in justice or memoir.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Caroline | 2/9/2014

    " I gave this book 4 stars for 2 reasons. First, because of the strong emotional connection I felt towards the author. The first time I heard about Damien Echols and the West Memphis Three was a few months ago when I happened upon the book Devils Knot, a documentary about the case and trial of the three murdered boys in Arkansas. Normally I stay away from true crime, especially something so violent as this, but curiosity led me to read the back of the book. As I was skimming its contents a guy in the bookstore said to me "dont worry, they didnt do it". He didnt explain and just walked away. Now I'm interested. I devoured the book and felt outraged at the injustice. I started looking online at articles and newspaper clippings from the trial to piece as much as I could together. The story and Damien lingered in the back of my mind for months. Then I found about his release from prison and heard about this book he wrote recounting his childhood, the arrest, time in prison and his future. I kept thinking to myself how strange that I would happen upon Devil's Knot, which was written more than 10 years ago, within months of Life After Death. The second reason is because I think Mr. Echols did a fantastic job of condensing and organizing not only his childhood, but the seventeen years he spent in prison, where I can only imagine time isn't easily measured. Autobiographies scare me- how could you possibly choose from a lifetime of experiences to accurately portray yourself? His honesty and sincerity is alarming and refreshing, and yet he keeps an air of mystery about him to keep the reader from getting arrogant and too close. The fact that he is willing to share anything about his life with the rest of the world is confusing for me, but I am so grateful that he did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rachel Whaley | 2/1/2014

    " Poetic and heartbreaking, this is a memoir of Damien Echols 19 years in prison on Death Row for a crime he didn't commit. He flashes back and to the present, telling the reader about his life leading up to his arrest, and reflecting on what his time in prison has done to him. It's absolutely astounding to read of his personal strength and the support group he had on the outside. If you're looking for lurid details of the West Memphis Three case, it's not really here, as Echols tells you. This is how a man faced absolute hell, head on, for half his life and came out the other side. It's beautiful, disheartening, horrifying, and hopeful. Wonderful writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Leighanne Hatfield | 1/30/2014

    " going to be a classic "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Beth | 1/22/2014

    " Damien's story is so many things: heartbreaking, frustrating, disgusting, horrifying, unbelievable. But he writes it beautifully. "

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