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All reviews - Books (1) - Music (1)

A Powerful Look at the Death Penalty in

Posted : 12 years, 1 month ago on 8 April 2006 08:32 (A review of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States)

This book, written by a Catholic nun, is a powerful indictment of the death penalty in America. She describes in vivid detail her role as "spiritual adviser" to two death row inmates, and in graphic detail, describes their deaths at the hands of the state.

While steadfastly anti-capital punishment (how can we trust a government that screws up so much in the application of this ultimate punishment?), Sister Prejan does not shy away from discussing her views with the families of the victims, and does not shy away from presenting the families' views to the reader with dignity and respect. She describes how she goes on to form both an abolitionist and victims' rights group in Louisana. She also goes on to point out how much more costly it is to execute someone than to put them in jail for life with no possibility of parole.

It's difficult to imagine how one could expect forgiveness for people who have brutally murdered people. Sister Prejan does not lecture, it seems even she does not expect this to be possible for most. She does, however, put the thought in the reader's mind - how can one advocate abandoning our humanity to fall to the level of the killer, while at the same time showing their humanity back at us. Sad and disturbing, but one of the most important works on the subject ever published. Strongly recommended.

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A modern-day classic country album!

Posted : 12 years, 2 months ago on 5 March 2006 03:17 (A review of Jacksonville City Nights)

As much of a return to his country roots as Cold Roses was, Ryan Adams has gone even further in his exploration of those roots with the release of this album. Equal parts Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt, and Merle Haggard, Adams has released the first great "classic" country album of the 21st century. I will say that it took a few listens before sinking in, there was a bit of waffling on my part before recognizing this.

Only a misguided duet with Norah Jones ("Dear John") keeps this from being a 5 star album. While not a bad idea, the two spend half the song trying to find a way to mesh their remarkably distinctive voices together. By the time they do, you just don't care anymore and are looking forward to the next song.

Whether you like swinging country standards ("A Kiss Before I Go"), plaintive wails to one's hometown ("The End" - who puts a song with this title as the second track?), blue-collar anthems ("The Hardest Part"), pleas to God ("Peaceful Valley"), covering one's own self ("My Heart is Broken," which appeared originally on Theme for a Trucker by his former band, Whiskeytown), or dark songs about the death of one's parents ("PA" - my personal favorite), you will find something to love here.

Originally reviewed on [Link removed - login to see]

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