The Fact of a Body

The Fact of a BodyThe Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Published by Flatiron Books on May 16th 2017
Pages: 336
Format: hardback
Genres: Autobiography, Nonfiction, True Crime
See it @ Goodreads
four-stars


Synopsis


Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky's crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, THE FACT OF A BODY is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed―but about how we grapple with our own personal histories. Along the way it tackles questions about the nature of forgiveness, and if a single narrative can ever really contain something as definitive as the truth. This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, ten years in the making, shows how the law is more personal than we would like to believe―and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

My thoughts on this book

The Fact of a Body is billed as a murder and a memoir, at first glance I thought it was about someone who had personally experienced at murder within the family. But the book took a deceive turn. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich was a freshly minted lawyer when her law firm her assigned her to a death penalty case of a convicted pedophile and child murderer, Ricky Langley. Marzano-Lesnevich whom until the time was a stanch anti-death penalty supporter, immediately after watching a video tape of the convicted murderer wants him to die.

The book then takes on a strange but interesting twist, Marzano-Lesnevich begins to intertwine her childhood with that of the murderer. As she researches the case she is forced to reconcile her own childhood, giving up practicing law to write. As a child she was molested by her Grandfather, once her parents were made aware of this, they stopped having her grandparents stay in the house. Alexandria and her sister were told not to speak of this, her parents never directly addressed the issue. The book moves between her own troubled childhood and that of Ricky Langley, how society refused to acknowledge the problem the both faced one as the abused and the other as an abuser.

The book is well written and engaging. The subject matter is very timely as we now have a political candidate running for office in the United States Senate that has been accused of molesting a fourteen year old girl. He is calling her a liar and is continuing to gain support in the Alabama election which is unconscionable.

About Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Authors - Alexandria-Marzano-Lesnevich

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir, named an Indie Next Pick and a Junior Library Guild selection; one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Buzzfeed, Book Riot, and the Huffington Post; a must-read for May by Goodreads, Audible.com, Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple and People; long-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize and a finalist for a New England Book Award; one of the 10 best books of the year so far by Entertainment Weekly; and one of the best books of the year so far by Audible.com and Book Riot. It was published May 16th in the US and May 18th in the UK, to be followed by the Netherlands, Turkey, Korea, Taiwan, Spain, Greece, Brazil, and France. The recipient of fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell, and Yaddo, as well as a Rona Jaffe Award, Marzano-Lesnevich lives in Boston, where she teaches at Harvard.

A Colony in a Nation

A Colony in a NationColony in a Nation, A by Christopher L. Hayes
Published by Recorded Books on March 21, 2017
Format: audiobook
Genres: Criminal Justice, Nonfiction, Politics & Social Sciences
See it @ Goodreads
four-half-stars


Synopsis


New York Times best-selling author and Emmy Award-winning news anchor Chris Hayes argues that there are really two Americas: a Colony and a Nation. America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a post-racial world, yet nearly every empirical measure--wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation--reveals that racial inequality has barely improved since 1968, when Richard Nixon became our first "law and order" president. With the clarity and originality that distinguished his prescient bestseller, Twilight of the Elites, Chris Hayes upends our national conversation on policing and democracy in a book of wide-ranging historical, social, and political analysis. Hayes contends our country has fractured in two: the Colony and the Nation. In the Nation, we venerate the law. In the Colony, we obsess over order, fear trumps civil rights, and aggressive policing resembles occupation. A Colony in a Nation explains how a country founded on justice now looks like something uncomfortably close to a police state. How and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution? A Colony in a Nation examines the surge in crime that began in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s, and the unprecedented decline that followed. Drawing on close-hand reporting at flashpoints of racial conflict, as well as deeply personal experiences with policing, Hayes explores cultural touchstones, from the influential "broken windows" theory to the "squeegee men" of late-1980s Manhattan, to show how fear causes us to make dangerous and unfortunate choices, both in our society and at the personal level. With great empathy, he seeks to understand the challenges of policing communities haunted by the omnipresent threat of guns. Most important, he shows that a more democratic and sympathetic justice system already exists--in a place we least suspect. A Colony in a Nation is an essential book--searing and insightful--that will reframe our thinking about law and order in the years to come.

My thoughts on this book

In a Christian Science Monitor book review Nick Romeo, notes:

The title comes from a phrase that Richard Nixon used in a 1968 speech at the Republican National Convention. “Black Americans,” he said, “do not want more government programs which perpetuate dependency. They don’t want to be a colony in a nation.” Hayes argues that in the half-century since Nixon’s speech, white America has subjugated a colony of the unfree within its own borders.

The idea that the criminal justice system is divided into two systems, one for whites and one for black has come to the forefront of American political discourse. Hayes does a good job of providing us with overwhelming evidence that there still is a large amount of racial bias. Police departments have become more militarized since 9/11 and that has become very evident when you see protest marches on the television. Hayes describes how “white fear” has led to politicians and the police to institute in some areas of the country a warfare mentality. We need as a nation become aware of our tribal instincts and the need to rise above those.

Hayes is an excellent writer, very readable, sometimes I feel his writing is better than his interviewing as seen on All in with Chris Hayes. This was an audiobook and it was read by the author. I am a fan of Chris Hayes and look forward to hearing and reading more from him.

About Christopher L. Hayes

Christopher Loffrado Hayes (/heɪz/; born February 28, 1979) is an American liberal political commentator, journalist, and author. Hayes hosts All In with Chris Hayes, a weekday news and opinion television show on MSNBC. Hayes formerly hosted a weekend MSNBC show, Up with Chris Hayes. He remains an editor at large of The Nation magazine.