The Autobiography of an Execution

The Autobiography of an Execution

David R. Dow / Aug 25, 2019

The Autobiography of an Execution Near the beginning of The Autobiography of an Execution David Dow lays his cards on the table People think that because I am against the death penalty and don t think people should be executed that

  • Title: The Autobiography of an Execution
  • Author: David R. Dow
  • ISBN: 9780446562065
  • Page: 130
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Near the beginning of The Autobiography of an Execution, David Dow lays his cards on the table People think that because I am against the death penalty and don t think people should be executed, that I forgive those people for what they did Well, it isn t my place to forgive people, and if it were, I probably wouldn t I m a judgmental and not very forgiving guy Just aNear the beginning of The Autobiography of an Execution, David Dow lays his cards on the table People think that because I am against the death penalty and don t think people should be executed, that I forgive those people for what they did Well, it isn t my place to forgive people, and if it were, I probably wouldn t I m a judgmental and not very forgiving guy Just ask my wife It this spellbinding true crime narrative, Dow takes us inside of prisons, inside the complicated minds of judges, inside execution administration chambers, into the lives of death row inmates some shown to be innocent, others not and even into his own home where the toll of working on these gnarled and difficult cases is perhaps inevitably paid He sheds insight onto unexpected phenomena how even religious lawyer and justices can evince deep rooted support for putting criminals to death and makes palpable the suspense that clings to every word and action when human lives hang in the balance.

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      • David R. Dow

        David R. Dow Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Autobiography of an Execution book, this is one of the most wanted David R. Dow author readers around the world.


    1. It was okay. The legal parts were really good, but I was not digging all the detours into the family. I wanted to read a book about the legalities of capital punishment, not a father feeling guilty for not buying his kid a snowcone.Also, I couldn't find any other reviewer here mention this, but my BS meter went off a few times. Many of the interactions he recounts with prisoners didn't ring true to me, and he seemed a little self-aggrandizing.

    2. This is a brilliant memoir/creative nonfiction that has intensified my opposition to the death penalty. The author runs a legal aid clinic that handles death row inmates' appeals in Texas, a state notorious for its large number of executions. I knew the system was seriously flawed, but I didn't realize it was THIS bad. I was frankly horrified by what I read.There are several cases in this story, but the central case involves a man convicted of murdering his wife and children, who is facing execu [...]

    3. I grew up in Texas and spent the majority of my adulthood there. Knowing this you might think I am for the death penalty and you would be wrong. The author is a death penalty attorney and law professor. He writes of many cases and references them and his family throughout the book. The main story of "Quaker" brought tears to my eyes. I have often wondered how "Christians" can play the part of God and put a person to death instead of just jailing them for life. I realize they refer to "an eye for [...]

    4. The first thought in reading The Autobiography of an Execution was that David Dow's life reminded me an awful lot of that of Mitch McDeere from The Firm. Not the mafia parts; just the long hours, beautiful wife, running and drinking and eating parts. I'm not sure if this was subconscious (I'm betting Dow has read Grisham), or if it just means that this is the life of a busy, driven Southern lawyer.Of course, it shouldn't go without saying that Dow's book is much, much better than Grisham's. I am [...]

    5. The author, a death-penalty defense lawyer in Texas, discusses some of his cases (with identifying details removed) and all their nail-biting, guilt-inducing, soul-crushing drama and tragedy. He mentions several cases as once, but most of the book centers on the case of a man he calls Quaker, who got a sickeningly unfair deal at his first trial and who seems innocent based on the evidence Dow has. Undeniably driven to do this work, and justifiably angry at what he perceives as uncaring, blatantl [...]

    6. If you're for the death penalty, I'm not convinced that reading books by lawyers such as David Dow seeking to save death-row inmates is really going to make any difference to what you think. So, what then, is the purpose of Dow's book, assuming he is preaching to an army of the convertedose who don't believe in the death penalty?David Dow is an academic and a lead lawyer at Texas's non-profit anti-death penalty litigation center. The greatest strength of Dow's book is his frankness. Dow argues t [...]

    7. David Dow's memoir is about some of the death-row inmates whom he's represented as their attorney, and all the injustices and challenges that exist where he practices (Texas). He use to support the death penalty but opposes it nowd after reading the book it's easy to see why. I can see some people being turned off by the way the book is written: he skips back and forth between his interactions with his family (wife, son, and a dog) and his clients. However, it didn't bother me at all; in fact, I [...]

    8. Wow. This book should be required reading to be a human. So very deserving of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award! The writing was so gorgeous I was able to overlook the author's aversion to quotation marks -- lots of, "I said, thank you very much. He said, you're welcome. I said, let's go get some ice cream." Not sure what the reasoning was behind this stylistic choice, but hey, if I'm going to think William Faulkner is the great genius of the universe, I can't say I don't like authors who brea [...]

    9. This book is several things: an intimate and humane argument against the injustice of capital punishment, a critique of other anti-capital punishment literature, and, as Louisa Thomas, writing in The New York Times described Mary Clearman Blew'sThis is Not the Ivy League: "a kind of anti-memoir — an incredulous account, a catalog of confusion."David R. Dow has been representing death row inmates for 20 odd years or so. Once a proponent of the death penalty, he got started in the business as an [...]

    10. This book is kind of a gender bender-- memoir and a crime and punishment narrative. The author, David Dow, has lots of titles but basically represents death row inmates in Texas. Although he's against the death penalty, he does not try to convince the reader of anything. He believes that most of his clients are guilty and he doesn't like them. BUT, it's the seven who he thought were innocent who still seem to haunt him--seven clients out of more than a hundred spanning the past twenty years. The [...]

    11. David Dow represented hundreds of death row inmates. The vast majority were guily. Most were executerd. A few were mentally retarded. Almost all had horrendous upbringings and were severly damaged human beings. Some he disliked intensely. Some he regarded as just plain evil. And at least a few were innocent. Dow's book sketches the reality of the death penalty in America and tells his own story -- that of a lawyer trying to stop his clients from being put to death and almost always losing. His w [...]

    12. There are many reasons I could give for why you should read a book about the death penalty: cold, hard, fact-based reasons, like the chilling statistic that to date 17 people who have been executed in this country have since been exonerated by DNA evidence, according to the Innocence Project (and that even one is too many). But really, my own opinions on the issue are irrelevant, and Dow's searing memoir can be approached equally well as a death penalty proponent, opponent, or as someone who has [...]

    13. I absolutely could not put this book down. The style was engaging, the tales were gripping and I found myself actually caring about (most of) the characters. I appreciate the honesty Dow provides the reader; namely that he used to be a supporter of the death penalty and that he does not judge those who still are. Instead, he provides us with an in-depth analysis of the appellate process and allows us to draw our own conclusion. He lays it all out - that most people are guilty (at one point he ev [...]

    14. This book, by a lawyer who tries to keep Texas Death Row inmates from being executed, contains some very serious, if oblique, accusations that I hope are true and were not embellishments by the author, because if they're not true, I'm shocked that he would "go there."I also didn't care for his stories about his family. I believe he included those because, as he mentions in the book, he received criticism on his previous books for not having enough of "himself" in them. However, I thought they we [...]

    15. This book is a screed—but it’s a screed that everyone with any interest in understanding how the American legal system works should read. The author has a very interesting perspective, having worked for Texas death-row inmates, and he is, I would say, enraged at how the legal system has treated them. The book is written somewhat unconventionally—not separated into chapters, really, more just pauses, and with a rather plaintive writing style—but the content is so important, and engrossing [...]

    16. towards the end of david dow's 'the autobiography of an execution', he writes:"The cases I have written about are not unusual. My other cases, every death-penalty lawyer's cases, are just like them. What's missing is the proof that what you have just finished reading is mundane. The day after Henry Quaker got put to death, my colleagues and I went back to the office and did it all over again, and all the same things happened."and this is maddening. this should be enough to convince any rational [...]

    17. Dow’s new book is made up of part philosophy, part law school 101, part case history, part memoir and part detective story. The most compelling part of these is the detective story, (where he tries to figure out if one of his clients is actually innocent) the worst part was his telling us too much about his precocious 6 –year old son (and while I understand that he wants to show us his personal life to give the rest of the story context, this was too much).Dow tells us that he used to believ [...]

    18. Whatever your feelings toward the death penalty, this is a fascinating read. It’s nonfiction, the story of Dow’s dealings as a death penalty lawyer who tries to keep people from being executed on death row — which does not mean he necessarily proves their innocence or downgrades their sentence. If someone dies from pneumonia instead, he considers it a “victory.” If he can push their sentence back a few days, a victory.A few things I found interesting about this book: It largely focuses [...]

    19. I picked this book up an a whim because it looked good. It was far better than I ever imagined. I breezed through it in the past couple days when I needed a break from college work. It really changed the way I feel about the death penalty. Although the book is fiction, it is based on the experiences of a real death penalty lawyer. He was extremely convincing in his reasons for disagreeing with the death penalty, such as human beings not having the right to take the lives of others, and everyone [...]

    20. A comfortable read that fits in naturally with my liberal inclinations. Dow is a lawyer who represents death row clients in Texas and lets his frustrations show. His argument is that the death penalty is wrong regardless of circumstances even though he admits to the nature of most of the people he represents. The book is not preachy and doesn’t get into the frivolous economics of the argument. It instead relies on his nature as a human being and inclinations of right and wrong to draw that con [...]

    21. 2.5 stars.  I picked this book out one, because I wanted to read an opposing viewpoint for capital punishment and two, I'm always curious about criminal defense attorneys--how and why they try to protect and serve those who commit the most heinous crimes. This book disappointed on both expectations. The author explained those away in a couple paragraphs and chose to focus on the lives and stories of the death row inmates he has represented, which surprisingly diluted what I thought the author [...]

    22. Some critiques of this book are of David Dow's purported ego. One has to have a strong ego to do the work he does and I am grateful for it. Some readers seem to miss the reasons names and particular details were altered, despite allegiance to the story itself. (Author's note, "I have told these stories in a way that is faithful to the truth as well as to the individuals they feature.") In this it is most believable. Yes, it's a story about how this lawyer--principles, passion and all--balances h [...]

    23. David Dow took a subject that many of us in the US like to ignore, the death penalty, and personalized it in a nearly perfect way--not just by telling the true stories of the death row inmates he represents, but also by weaving it together with his own life and family. We don't like to be reminded that we, as a country, sentence people to death. The author admits that the majority of his clients are guilty. They are. He doesn't tiptoe around the fact that his job is to keep them alive, even if i [...]

    24. There's good news and a little bit of bad news: the good news is that this book blew me away. The writing is fluid, the story is gripping, and I could hardly put it down. The bad news is that it left a bad taste in my mouth because of the "mostly non-fiction" aspect. In an author's note at the beginning, Dow explains that in order to protect attorney-client confidentiality, he's changed and composited various facts and characters, but he claims the substance of the book is all true. The trouble [...]

    25. A harrowing read which exposes the barbarism and capriciousness of the supposed guardians of the rule of law. Dow pulls no punches, pointing out that our societal indifference to the death penalty is manifested throughout the system - from the legislatures that egg on the machinery of death to the judges that can't get elected or appointed if they seek to tamper the primal bloodlust. He reminds us that there are still good people doing the right things - innocents on death row, changed inmates w [...]

    26. There is some information included about how the author wrote about real cases and events without betraying any confidence. I don't quite see how that is possible, but the book is fascinating reading. This is a Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction experience. For the record: I oppose the death penalty.

    27. No matter what one's stance is on capital punishment, this well-written personal log is an interesting, if not moving, account of what it's like to be a defense lawyer for prisoners on death row awaiting execution, what goes into the process of execution, and what sort of toll it takes on one's psyche. It's definitely a thoughtful and worthwhile read.

    28. This was definitely one the most interesting book I've read this year l. I read it for a book report for English. I randomly selected it off of a list of about 10 books and it was a very lucky pick! This isn't something I would normally pick up but now I really want to go get another book that focuses on things that happen in the government and the things that are wrong in the world!

    29. This book provided an interesting inside view of the litigation process from the perspective of a death penalty lawyer. He artfully shows all sides of an argument while still showing a person in conflict over what his job entails, and it's losing record for 'saving' those on death row. I good read, regardless of which side of this issue you fall on.

    30. I could not put this down once I started. This book shows why even though I'm a lawyer, I generally hate lawyers, judges, prosecutors and cops. The system is not about justice or truth, it's about money and politics.

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