Clive Stafford Smith's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Clive Stafford Smith recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Clive Stafford Smith's favorite book recommendations of all time.

Behind the debate over capital punishment is the reality of the capital punishment industry. This is the inside story of state-sanctioned homicide, as told by the men who design, sell, maintain, and use the machinery of execution, and through the eyes of those they use it upon. Photographs. less
Recommended by Clive Stafford Smith, and 1 others.

Clive Stafford SmithI think the title says it all. One thing that people don’t understand enough about executions in general is what the protocol is and why we have protocol. There’s a protocol to death everywhere, for the simple reason that we’re all, at some level, terribly ashamed of what we’re involved in. If you don’t have a step-by-step way to do it I don’t think people could go through with it. (Source)

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From Wilbert Rideau, the award-winning journalist who spent forty-four years in Louisiana prisons working against unimaginable odds to redeem himself, the story of a remarkable life: a crime, its punishment, and ultimate triumph.

After killing a woman in a moment of panic following a botched bank robbery, Rideau, denied a fair trial, was improperly sentenced to death at the age of nineteen. After more than a decade on death row, his sentence was amended to life imprisonment, and he joined the inmate population of the infamous Angola penitentiary. Soon Rideau became editor of the...
Recommended by Clive Stafford Smith, and 1 others.

Clive Stafford SmithI don’t think there’s much fiction in that. Wilbert’s pretty straight up with what he does and I think in some ways he underplayed some of his own experiences. (Source)

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The Green Mile

When it first appeared, one volume per month, Stephen King's THE GREEN MILE was an unprecedented publishing triumph: all six volumes ended up on the New York Times bestseller lists—simultaneously—and delighted millions of fans the world over.

Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk the Green Mile, keeping a date with "Old Sparky," Cold Mountain's electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities in his years working the Mile. But he's never seen anyone like...
Recommended by Clive Stafford Smith, and 1 others.

Clive Stafford SmithIt’s an immensely courageous book for such a famous author to write. It’s written from the perspective of the warder, whose job is to supervise death row and the execution of prisoners. The story is ultimately about a guy called John Coffey, a Christ-like figure who gets executed. (Source)

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We, the Accused

Paul Presset cannot resist an open opportunity to rid himself of his overbearing wife. This powerful and haunting novel traces the dawn of motive in his mind through the murder and resulting manhunt, arrest, trial, and a final, terrible culminating scene. less
Recommended by Clive Stafford Smith, and 1 others.

Clive Stafford SmithCapuchin Classics sent me this, asked me to read it and consider doing a foreword. I thought: Oh God, I don’t like to read books about the death penalty; I like to read slightly more cheerful stuff when I’m not doing cases. But I did read it and I was absolutely captivated. (Source)

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To Kill a Mockingbird

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and...

Eric BerkowitzThe case is about racism, but it’s also about white sexual fear of the black man, and the failed effort of white America to stop intermixing. I think the notion of the scary black man still permeates the American justice system today. I don’t think To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the greatest pieces of literature ever, but it is a very good window into the ingrained sexual fear that permeated at... (Source)

Scott TurowIt’s dated in many ways; it’s extremely sentimental. But it’s beautifully done – you can’t take a thing away from it. (Source)

David Heinemeier HanssonReally liking this one so far. I’m sure a lot of people here probably read it in high school or whatever, but it wasn’t on the Danish curriculum, so here I am! (Source)

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