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New York Times Bestseller | 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
Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction | Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction | Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award | Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize | Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize | An American Library Association Notable Book

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 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.
Praise for Just Mercy
"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
"Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God's work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story." --John Grisham
"Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal heroes, perhaps the most inspiring and influential crusader for justice alive today, and Just Mercy is extraordinary. The stories told within these pages hold the potential to transform what we think we mean when we talk about justice." --Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2015.
Edition: 2015 Spiegel & Grau trade paperback edition.
ISBN: 9780812984965
Characteristics: xiv, 349 pages ; 21 cm


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Mar 15, 2018

Anyone who has heard Bryan Stephenson speak about the horrible inequities in the
criminal justice system can't help but be moved and angered. The reader feels drawn into
every court case and involved with each conclusion. A must read for everyone.

DBRL_ReginaF Mar 10, 2018

Of all the book on our justice system that I have read, this is one of the very best. It definitely puts a human face on it case after heartbreaking case.

Jan 03, 2018

This book uses a series of case studies to explore the practice of incarceration in the United States. It is written by a lawyer - Bryan Stevenson, who works with Death Row prisoners in Alabama. Reading this book was an eye-opening experience that left me in an almost constant state of outrage from cover to cover. I would have even questioned much of it if it weren't for the well documented notes in the back. I have since gone on to watch several talks and speeches he has made about his work and I have found him to be a smart, gentle, compassionate man who has really interesting things to say about justice and mercy in society. The book is not overly technical or filled with legal jargon. It is very readable and packed full of information.

Aug 18, 2017


Jul 17, 2017

A concentrated, unblinking story of the Deep South and its enduring struggle with surmounting slavery/racism, told through the legal system. The author defends the unjustly accused Walter McMillian, who gets railroaded into Death Row when he should never have been there in the first place. This is a deeply personal story and the author describes his own feelings of incompetence as he starts off his legal career, nearly overwhelmed by his caseload. He bravely persisted and has achieved a solid non-profit foundation to help those most in need.

Jul 08, 2017

Excellent book. It was very educational about the history of racial injustice in the South and the racial injustices in the criminal justice system. The stories given about real people will break your heart and you won't be able to put the book down once you start it. The author is an amazing person and I am thankful that he wrote this book.

TechLibrarian May 13, 2017

By turns upsetting and hopeful, I too think this should be mandatory reading. I listened to the audiobook which is read by the author, and was on the edge of my seat, wondering if justice would be served or if the men, women, and children whose stories Stevenson tells, would be exonerated or executed. A mix of statistics and personal anecdotes, this book moves along swiftly. It should indeed by mandatory reading, especially for anyone who works in criminal justice.

Jan 28, 2017

An astounding book that stays with you. The irony of the connection with Harper Lee's setting for To Kill A Mockingbird is incredible. I got the audiobook from The Innocence Project a few years back, and this book is in the same vein. It doesn't dive into the deeper systemic corruption, (extending to DNA labs falsifying data to curry favour and extend contracts with country sheriffs and courts), and focuses more on the stories and scope of the Equal Justice Initiative.

Nov 27, 2016

This is a very important book and should be read by every citizen. Many of us are ignorant of what continues to be a racist and violent system of so-called justice. Bryan Stevenson's and EJI's commitment is remarkable. His writing is engaging and compelling. I'm not the same after reading this book and will become more engaged in justice issues.

AL_LESLEY Nov 09, 2016

What an important book. How shameful for all of us to live in ignorance of all the forgotten people condemned to die or live the rest of their lives in prisons due to the prejudices of ignorant people. That people like Bryan Stevenson are out there, determined despite the hardships, to help change our broken system is amazing. That we have the highest incarceration rate in the entire world is not a symptom of a productive and healthy justice system. Everybody should read this and open their eyes.

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DBRL_ReginaF Mar 10, 2018

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

Nov 03, 2016

My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.

Apr 16, 2016

"...capital punishment means 'them without the capital get the punishment.'" -- p. 6 Steve Bright, director of Southern Prisoners Defense Committee


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Nov 03, 2016

As a young law student, Bryan Stevenson was somewhat adrift at Harvard Law School, unsure of his direction or his future. He wanted to do something that would help people, but he was having trouble connecting his theoretical education with meaningful action. Then, an internship at the Southern Prisoner’s Defence Committee led to work helping inmates on death row in the Deep South. Most of these prisoners were indigent, and could not afford legal counsel to help review or appeal their cases. The experience made a profound impression, and led him to found the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama in 1994. Stevenson would go on to appeal countless death sentences, and challenge the practice of sentencing minors to life without parole. Just Mercy recounts his experiences representing people who have been written off by society.


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