#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING MICHAEL B. JORDAN AND JAMIE FOXX • A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.
“[Bryan Stevenson’s] dedication to fighting for justice and equality has inspired me and many others and made a lasting impact on our country.”—John Legend
NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY CNN • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction • Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction • Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award • Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize • An American Library Association Notable Book
“Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”—David Cole, The New York Review of Books
“Searing, moving . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela.”—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
“You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. . . . The message of this book . . . is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review
“Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he’s also a gifted writer and storyteller.”—The Washington Post
“As deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty.”—The Financial Times
“Brilliant.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Reading this revelatory memoir by a lawyer who’s dedicated his career to calling out the racist underpinnings of America’s criminal justice system is equal parts devastating and inspiring. Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, introduces us to a range of clients—some guilty, others innocent—whose lives have been curtailed, or even cut short, by gross miscarriages of justice, from shoddy legal representation to outrageous sentencing guidelines for young offenders. Stevenson’s portraits of grief and anger in the face of inequity and discrimination are complicated, humane, and absolutely essential. Just Mercy will change the way you think about the law.
With a mandate to serve the poor and voiceless, Stevenson, a professor of law at New York University and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal firm providing services for the wrongly condemned, describes in his memoir how he got the call to represent this largely neglected clientele in our justice system. He notes that, with no parole in some states and a thriving private prison business that often pushes local governments to create new crimes and impose stiffer sentences, America has the world's highest incarceration rate and, at 2.3 million, its largest incarcerated population. In an early case during his career, Stevenson defended Walter McMillian, a black man from southern Alabama, who was accused by a white con-man of two murders, although the snitch had never even met him and was himself under investigation for one of the murders. Through a series of bogus legal situations, police harassment, racism, and phony testimony, McMillian found himself on Alabama's death row, fully aware of the legacy of class and race prejudice that made poor Southern blacks susceptible to wrongful imprisonment and execution. Stevenson's persistent efforts spared McMillian from that ultimate fate, and the author's experience with the flaws in the American justice system add extra gravity to a deeply disturbing and oft-overlooked topic.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fighting to Live
In every sector of American Life we are becoming more and more disconnected from our neighbors. That disconnect finds its way into bad policies that only further widens the gulf. This book illustrates how that disconnect leads to a disastrous human toll and the cruelest injustices in the legal system.
This book, The 13th, The New Jim Crow, and many others often leave me gutted of hope at one end, and tearfully joyful for the few stories where things do work out. Everyone needs to hear these stories and truths of where we fail each other. Everyone needs to ask themselves why do we destroy each other so ruthlessly? Everyone needs to ask themselves, am I really safer when a miscarriage of justice is allowed to go unchecked?
The sad thing is that Mr. Stevenson’s memoir highlights one key blinding point in modern society. It costs us more to uphold systems of racial and socio-economic divide, then it would if we provided the resources and funding to education, mental health, and social safety nets. If we did those things, then we would be truly safer.
Everyone should read this
Relevant, important and eye-opening.
This book was amazing from start to finish. It really brings out how the world views “convicted felons” when they are really innocent. Love the work he is doing and can’t wait to see the movie.