In January 1982, an elderly white widow was found brutally murdered in the small town of Greenwood, South Carolina. Police immediately arrested Edward Lee Elmore, a semiliterate, mentally retarded black man with no previous felony record. His only connection to the victim was having cleaned her gutters and windows, but barely ninety days after the victim’s body was found, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.
Elmore had been on death row for eleven years when a young attorney named Diana Holt first learned of his case. After attending the University of Texas School of Law, Holt was eager to help the disenfranchised and voiceless; she herself had been a childhood victim of abuse. It required little scrutiny for Holt to discern that Elmore’s case—plagued by incompetent court-appointed defense attorneys, a virulent prosecution, and both misplaced and contaminated evidence—reeked of injustice. It was the cause of a lifetime for the spirited, hardworking lawyer. Holt would spend more than a decade fighting on Elmore’s behalf.
With the exemplary moral commitment and tenacious investigation that have distinguished his reporting career, Bonner follows Holt’s battle to save Elmore’s life and shows us how his case is a textbook example of what can go wrong in the American justice system. He reviews police work, evidence gathering, jury selection, work of court-appointed lawyers, latitude of judges, iniquities in the law, prison informants, and the appeals process. Throughout, the actions and motivations of both unlikely heroes and shameful villains in our justice system are vividly revealed.
Moving, suspenseful, and enlightening, Anatomy of Injustice is a vital contribution to our nation’s ongoing, increasingly important debate about inequality and the death penalty.
From the Hardcover edition.
“Weakness and Deceit vividly depicts the failure of U.S. policy to take human rights seriously in Central America in the 1980s. Its lessons are more relevant than ever today as policy-makers struggle to respond to crisis situations in the Middle East, and elsewhere. For three decades Bonner's relentless pursuit of the truth has set the gold standard for investigative journalists everywhere.” —Michael Posner, professor of Ethics and Finance at New York University, former
U.S. assistant secretary of state
“Thirty years ago, Raymond Bonner wrote a fundamental book about the United States and Latin America. Here it is again, a major work by a big-hearted reporter, with new and fascinating details about the tragedy of U. S. interventionism during the Cold War, and the lies we have been told.” —Alma Guillermoprieto, author of Looking for History: Dispatches From Latin America, and The Heart That Bleeds: Latin America Now
A land and culture poorly understood by analysts, politicians, and voters in the far-off United States. A regime permeated with corruption; a country in the steel grip of a few families that disdained any system which might give a voice to the millions who kept them in comfort: guarding their children, watering their lawns and putting food on their tables. A brutal and remorseless police force and army trained in America, armed with American guns, and fighting a bloody proxy war against anyone who might conceivably be an American foe—whether or not they held a gun.
This was Central America in the 1980s, at a time when El Salvador was the centerpiece of a misguided and ultimately disastrous foreign policy. It resulted in atrocities that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and destabilized a region that has not recovered to this day. At a time when the Reagan Administration’s obsession with communism overwhelmed objections to its policies, Ray Bonner took a courageous, unflinching look at just who we were supporting and what the consequences were.
Now supplemented with an epilogue drawing on newly available, once-secret documents that detail the extent of America’s involvement in assassinations, including the infamous murder of three American nuns and a lay missionary in 1980, Weakness and Deceit is a classic, riveting and ultimately tragic account of foreign policy gone terribly wrong.