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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant piece of non-fiction
Having approached this book with an open mind (and staying with it to the end) I found this an excellent piece of work. It is often too easy to pick a title by a well known author - and expect the book to be the same as previous offerings. This was John Grisham's first non-fiction novel, and those who may have been expecting a legal fiction thriller, and bought the book...
Published on 5 Jan. 2008 by Steveml

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tough going
I'm going to side with the majority on this one, and sum up The Innocent Man as tough going and ultimately disapointing.
The outing of a lazy and corrupt law and judicial system is a noble cause that offers some interesting insight, but the prose is laborious and at times makes for tortous reading.
I stuck with it because I wanted to give Grisham the benefit of...
Published on 1 May 2008 by P. Butler


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant piece of non-fiction, 5 Jan. 2008
By 
Steveml (Lancs, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Paperback)
Having approached this book with an open mind (and staying with it to the end) I found this an excellent piece of work. It is often too easy to pick a title by a well known author - and expect the book to be the same as previous offerings. This was John Grisham's first non-fiction novel, and those who may have been expecting a legal fiction thriller, and bought the book in error, shoud perhaps have read the cover before complaining within their review.

I feel that the incidents and injustices described within the book do leave you with a strong sense of how legalities, the justice system and pre-judgement can spiral to the point of no-return, purely because of the egotism and self-opinions of those we place trust in.

The book was so powerful, that it compelled the prosecuting district attorney in the case, Bill Peterson, to create a website in a 'self-defence' attempt to lambaste any innacuracies within the book. This wouldn't be that funny, but all the prosecutor seems to be able to do is to pick holes in points that were not that relevant to the case, again attempting to deflect responsibility from hiself and his colleagues.

The book will shock, and leave a bitter taste, especially in view of the fact that neither the prosecutor nor those involved in this harrowing case of injustice and mistrial seem to feel it necessary to apologise for their wrongdoings. As clear a case of finding a scapegoat for a crime at any price as you will ever see, in a shallow attempt to appease a small town community.

Give it a try - I wish more non-fiction writers provoked such interest with their books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legal Fiction Rock Star Grisham Performs Public Service By Writing This Book, 11 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Paperback)
First, the good news. As a courts and legal affairs reporter the past 40 years, I have covered thousands of criminal cases and trials. And I remain fairly confident that the grotesque miscarriage of justice so artfully detailed in this nonfiction masterpiece is a rare occurrence. After all, if it were not, the injustices of Ada, Oklahoma, would not have triggered publication of this best-seller and two other books of outrage.

But, here's the bad news. The Innocent Man is nonfiction and this grotesque miscarriage of justice actually DID happen. No patriotic American can be proud of a system in which events like these can occur. To learn that the prosecutor and the cops at the center of this legal mess had the stones to sue for libel just adds insult to the injury of The Innocent Man. They should have slunk off quietly into a sunset of anonymity and hoped to heaven no one could ever link them to the cases from this book.

Grisham has performed a public service by lending his legal-fiction rock-star status to the story of this transgression. I hope he donated some of the revenues from The Innocent Man to the Innocence Project so that group can continue its valuable work.

And, I hope every prosecutor and cop in America reads this book carefully as a reminder that their true role in the system involves serving justice not just closing a case.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read with care., 30 Jan. 2007
By 
Mr. K. Wrebel "Derby drifter" (Cornwall England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Hardcover)
Unlike John Grisham's other masterful books, this is not a work of fiction. This was not written for your entertainment. This is a horror story. A horror story that not only equals the great books of Stephen King, but surpasses them with its appalling, unbelievable truth. And if that is not terrifying enough - this nightmare is not over. Closing the covers of this book will not make it all go away. As I write these words, and as you, if you have the nerve, turn the pages, the horror and injustices go on; inflicted, still, by some of the same merciless justice officials named in the pages of this book.

With this disturbing expose of Oklahoma's often cruel and incompetent penal system, John Grisham, with the loyalty of his fans and the compassion of his new readers takes us on a fact based-meticulously- researched, torturous account of one mans trail through living hell. A hell named, Death Row-McAlester Penitentiary, Oklahoma. John Grisham has utilised his, well earned, position as a best selling author and legal expert, to blast open the concrete walls of shame, and bend open the iron bars of corruption and hypocrisy to show the world yet-one-more sick, festering tumour of human-rights violations.

Who cares how well or badly written this book is? I never thought to notice while reading it, nor care now I have finished it. I was shocked and pained by its contents. Contents that to any passionately-perceptive human being should be beyond criticism.

Not all men and women, after spending years on death row eventually to be executed, are guilty of their crimes. If you cannot live with that thought - do not read this book. If you are moved by that thought - read the book, and then look up the McAlaster Penitentiary, death row inmates -pen-pals wanted site, and write to someone in hell.

The Innocent Man altered my perspective on life. Fresh air tastes sweeter, sunshine feels warmer, freedom seems bigger. Before he wrote this book John Grisham had my admiration as a writer; now he has my respect as a human being. This is not just another book. (kurtwrebel@hotmail.com)
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars compelling, 19 Feb. 2007
By 
J. Mellor "stayleyvegas" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Hardcover)
I have long been a Grisham fan and in the early days used to positively drool awaiting the next book. However, I began to lose interest after A Painted House and since The King of Torts, whilst passable, I do not think any of his books have been anything special. In fact the last 4/5 novels merge into one and I cannot remember individual story lines. You cannot say that about The Firm or A Time To Kill.

It was with a little bit of uncertainty, therefore, that I recently bought his latest book, The Innocent Man. I was intrigued about him writing a non fiction book and the write up also captured my imagination:

"If you believe that in America you are innocent until proven guilty, this book will shock you. If you believe in the death penalty, this book will disturb you. If you believe the criminal justice system is fair, this book will infuriate you".

So I thought, why not try it?

Well, I must say that I was absolutely hypnotized and read this book in one sitting last night. I have no idea how long it took and have no concept of time as I was captivated with the book.

I do remember, however, going through a whole range of emotions the most common of which was frustration. Not with the book itself but thinking "how can this happen?".

If this was a book of fiction written by Grisham then I would have thought he had lost the plot, that he had writer's block and was struggling to find a realistic storyline - I had to keep reminding myself it was a true story (but won't spoil the storyline for anyone!!)

I can certainly seeing him writing further true crime books in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Had it been a work of fiction I would have given it 1 star..., 18 Sept. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Paperback)
... but it's not. It only looks like fiction in bad taste. Instead, this truly happened as described.

I'm not summarizing the story as the editorial reviews and most reviewers before me are quite descriptive.
May I just say that I think that every judicial system has its share of faults and flaws, but what's revealed in this book is simply astonishing and unbelievable from beginning to end. I can only hope that it rattles a few consciences whilst increasing awareness to prevent disastrous consequences for those involved.

As it always happens when I read J. Grisham's books, I've appreciated and enjoyed the clear and well structured narrative, even more so on this occasion. Being a real-life story, I'm sure it must have been quite a task to extrapolate all the relevant facts from all the interviews and paperwork generated by this case during the years, in order to present them clearly to the readers.

Unless you already know the epilogue, try not to peek at the photographs published right in the middle of the book. Some are quite revealing for the yet-to-be-read rest of the story. They don't actually "spoil everything" -in fact, whatever unfolded after turning those pages kept me on the alert and as incredulous as ever- but I still think it would have been preferable to print them at the very end of the book.

A part from that, "The Innocent Man" is highly recommendable.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critics.... you are kidding me., 28 Dec. 2007
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Paperback)
Having read most of Grisham's fiction I approached this book with an open mind. Perhaps that's what the critics should have done. Not my normal type of book, I admit, I prefer fiction, for me Grisham along with Harlan Coben is the best there is in the modern world. But nevertheless I picked up the book, a present from Father Christmas.
The book pulled me through page my startling page. I gasped... my mouth fell open on more than one occasion. I applauded Grisham's words, his research, HIS open mind and his perseverance to bring these cases of miscarriage of justice to the world stage when he could have so easily written himself a ten million dollar cheque with another work of genius fiction.
Grisham takes the reader down the road where sanity ends and insanity begins and more importantly what happens when a corrupt and lazy County judicial system opts for the easy out.
The line of least resistance.
The town - the county - the country - wanted a conviction.
So let's try the nut!
Easy peasy, Ron Williamson was so mentally imbalanced they must have thought they were on to a winner.
Ron Williamson.
My heart went out to him as I recalled my early twenties when a friend of mine set path on the same route when all around him could do little but proffer their support and lend an occasional ear.
I sympathised with Williamson as I did with my friend.
I screamed no! On more than one occasion and I'm not ashamed to say I cried at one point. This type of book is necessary to bring to the attention of the so called civilised world that injustices do occur. And shame on you to the prosecutor and the police department and to the individuals with no heart and a huge slice of apathy and sheer laziness. I just hope you continue to sleep straight in your beds at night. And my biggest criticism of all, levied for the church who preach forgiveness and compassion on a daily basis and in particular the small town church in Ada where the Williamson family including Ron attended and prayed and preached for generations ...and Ron Williamson a committed Christian during his whole life, embracing Christianity before, during and after his incarceration, shunned by the very organisation he loved and respected.
Irony... his reward, God's answer to his prayers... a terminal illness just a few months after he tasted freedom after eleven years of hell on earth.
To the church of Ada and to the Pastor who remains unnamed (for the best) in the book, may your Lord forgive you!
And for Grisham, a brave and compelling piece of work and because of his illustriousness, one that will ultimately be read by the masses. And so it should be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into US Legal System, 5 Nov. 2011
By 
Suenos6 (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Kindle Edition)
A fantastic read. It really does make you think about those people who have been wrongly convicted. Law students should definitely read this book and, should they choose to go into criminal law, help try and ensure nothing like this can be allowed to happen again.

How on earth was this ever allowed to happen? I'd like to think that it couldn't in the UK but somehow I'm not that sure. Of course, the one saving grace here is that there is no death penalty.

One thing I did get out of the book: If I am ever arrested for anything I am making absolutely no comment until a lawyer is present. May make me sound like I am paranoid (perhaps I am) but after reading this book I challenge you not to think the same way. And this is from somebody who, on the whole, think that the Police and our criminal law system do a good job under very difficult circumstances.

A great read and real credit to John Grisham for writing about this issue. It would have been so easy for him to have just churned out another fictional novel which may have sold more copies than this non fiction work.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Justice is worth fighting for., 8 Jan. 2008
By 
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Hardcover)
Anybody who has any interest in justice and fairness ought to read this book. It is a shocking revelation of a miscarriage of justice in Western civilisation. If this true story were just a one off it would be appalling, but it leaves one with the feeling that this may just be the tip of the iceberg. In certain parts of the world justice is not something that is held in high esteem, but here in the West we expect our justice system to be a foundation for our civilisation.

John Grisham has done an excellent job, both in his careful investigation and in the presentation of the facts in this book. For me it made both compelling and challenging reading. Challenging because as individuals our moral stance contributes to the fabric of society and we need to guard against a careless attitude towards matters of right and wrong.

As others have pointed out, the photographs give a précis of the story and should be looked at only after reading the book otherwise it is like taking a peek at the last chapter.

All in all a very worthwhile read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tough going, 1 May 2008
By 
P. Butler "Butters" (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Paperback)
I'm going to side with the majority on this one, and sum up The Innocent Man as tough going and ultimately disapointing.
The outing of a lazy and corrupt law and judicial system is a noble cause that offers some interesting insight, but the prose is laborious and at times makes for tortous reading.
I stuck with it because I wanted to give Grisham the benefit of the doubt - his other works warrant that honour - but I could quite easily have shelved this one with a good chunk left unread.
It isn't classic Grisham that we all know and love - it was never going to be given the real-life subject matter - but you still expect a great deal better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 20 Nov. 2008
This review is from: The Innocent Man (Paperback)
It is very difficult to imagine such a complex set of events leading to the indictment of an innocent man. This piece by John Grisham is written with exceptional skill to collate together myriad characters and events to create a compelling narrative of a true story revolving around man wrongly convicted of a brutal rape and murder.
What is fascinating is that the events in the book actually occurred. John Grisham admits himself that he could not in his imagination have come up with such a story. However he does do well in creating an easy "docu-read".
Overall it is a bit of a sad story, but it's certainly one of the best Grisham's I have read.
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The Innocent Man
The Innocent Man by John Grisham (Paperback - 28 Oct. 2010)
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