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Publisher's Summary

The definitive memoir by Damien Echols of the "West Memphis Three", who was falsely convicted of committing three murders. Hear this unforgettable account of his 18 years on death row.

©2012 Damien Echols (P)2012 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Life After Death

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A Living Poem

When I read Law & Disorder by John Douglas, I became interested in the West Memphis 3 and watched the Paradise Lost documentaries. What a treat to learn that Damien Echols had just published his memoir. I immediately grabbed the Audible edition, which has Damien reading his own words. It would be difficult to approach this book without feeling compassion for what Echols has been through, but if I thought that the reaction to this book was predicated on how people felt about the case, I was wrong. It's gotten high praise and reviews and for good reason. This story is beyond amazing. Not only is Damien's tale of life behind bars riveting, but it's well written. Poetic and full of insight. He's an elegant writer with spare prose that's reflective of his approach to life. I avoid mainstream memoirs which unabashedly play on the heartstrings--they are common and dull. This is nothing like that. I was elevated and transformed by Damien's experience, told in his own words. It made me love my own life and appreciate all life a little bit more. Life After Death is a living poem. I could not stop listening. Insight after insight pours from the soul of this wrongly convicted man. Impossible not to savor, like a living poem. Thank you Damien for this wonderful gift.

36 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking and inspiring.

I have followed the case of Damian Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jesse Miskelley since 1996, when the documentary Paradise Lost came out. This memoir breaks my heart, as I listen to an innocent man go through the tortures of prison and death row- and before that of poverty and community ignorance. Through it all, Mr. Echols maintains poise and dignity. Listening to the story in Echols' own voice brought home the emotion and loss of the tragedy.

I personally was glad that there was little or no mention of the gruesome details of the murders and the new suspect arising from DNA tests, all of which is available in the many documentaries about the case and the websites supporting the West Memphis Three. This narrative is the story of Mr. Echols' life so far, which shines a bright light onto the inhuman conditions that we allow to exist in our prisons. A truly excellent memoir, which breaks your heart over and over again.

29 people found this helpful

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A compelling story-worthwhile listen.

Prior to reading this book, I had no knowledge of the tragic murders in West Memphis. I was drawn into this incredibly well-written book, by Damien Echol's natural ability to tell a story. I was drawn to the person he was and the person he grew to be during his years in prison. Since reading this book I have watched all of the HBO documentaries that portray how easy it is for justice to be miscarried, when media, fear, and ignorance are in the mix. What I found most fascinating and refreshing about this book is the fact that Damien Echols did not allow himself to be swallowed by fear and self-pity at the prospect of being executed for a crime he did not commit. He wrote a book that told a story about life on death row-the lessons that he learned as he came of age behind bars.

14 people found this helpful

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  • M
  • 09-26-12

hard to put down

What made the experience of listening to Life After Death the most enjoyable?

Points of light outshining seemingly overwhelming darkness

Who was your favorite character and why?

Damien ... courage ... perseverance ... truth

Which scene was your favorite?

Epilogue.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Author's narration ... excellent!

13 people found this helpful

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Always was a big supporter of Damien E and the WM3

What disappointed you about Life After Death?

The writing was just so patronizing. Seemed like every sentence was stretched to add vocabulary that just seemed fake and overly "cool". Everything was eye rollingly exaggerated (not the story, the writing). Over used adjectives to the point I turned it off. Clearly needed a writer to come on and co write this with him.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He was ok and read it in his voice but it was hard to follow at times as his accent and tone just felt too soft. Not a knock here just my experience.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

If you are a loyal fan of Damiens you will like this book. If you buy this blindly I can't see anyone enjoying it for it's own merit as a story.

Any additional comments?

I followed and supported Damien for a very long time. I donated to the site to help his cause, but the way he's acted since getting out of prison has just turned a lot of us off. He only seems to have time for the famous and seems to have turned on Jason for wanting to tell his story as well. He comes off as a selfish kid who thinks only he was the wm3. Jason has every right to claim some of the light cast on this case as he ultimately went to jail for Damien and refused a plea deal to get out of jail for Damien and now because he's involved in a movie about the case Damien turns on him? So many came together to support the WM3 but now many have started to doubt Damiens sincerity as he has turned into Mr. Hollywood. It's a shame. I gave this book a chance hoping Damien could give me some sincerity and make me believe in him again. He failed.

7 people found this helpful

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A book about nothing from a guy who's seen a lot.

First and foremost, I am a supporter of the West Memphis Three and I believe in their innocence. I tried to read the first iteration of this book when it was called "Almost Home". I put it down because the more I read it, the less I liked Damien. It felt very much like Damien just loves Damien a little too much. I've had friends like that and I stopped spending time with them because absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that. I purchased this audiobook to see what else Damien had to say for himself and found myself a little disappointed to find that this book is essentially a rehashing (at least in the beginning). Damien is a wonderful writer and certainly knows how to paint a picture with words but the pictures he paints are of clearly realized total non-events. I realize that Damien wrote this book to paint a clear vision of his own memories, likely to keep them for himself and I'm okay with that and imagine it'll be an interesting read for some. I just kind of feel like he's talking about stuff we've all experienced and refusing to go into any of the reasons why we purchased this book in the first place. I'd imagine that this book will be the first in a series about his life and that this book is mostly about his time prior to his conviction but I find it boring. Damien has a really nice voice and I enjoyed listening to him tell his story but sometimes he seems a little too proud of himself about things that don't matter like his taste in clothes or food or holidays. It just kind of seems like the stuff a teenager would write about. I'd imagine that there is likely a part of Damien that is stunted in emotional development having had his youth taken from him. The same happens to addicts and I've seen it happen so I don't judge him for that. In fact, I commend him for being self-taught in a variety of subjects while living under such harsh circumstances.

What made me shut the book off in the second part was his disgust for fat people. Over and over again he describes how disgusting he finds someone's "fat belly" or infers how much "fried chicken" someone eats but then he goes on to brag about his own appetite for junk food. Somehow he's above criticism? I shut the book off at exactly the point where he says that women in West Memphis are "not smart enough to take care of themselves so they don't turn into sexless blobs". Just why? I also found it abhorrent that he constantly has to talk about how little he cares for Domini and how he just brushes his sister's molestation under the rug as an alleged non-issue. I just see no compassion for others in Damien. His concerns are with him alone. He shows little to no compassion for anyone and only revels in how other people feel about him. I kind of feel like "he doth protest too much" when it comes to his turns in the psych ward or his arrests. I understand the "Satanic Panic" that was going on in the early 90's and have sympathy for how that has impacted this case. I have a lot of friends who are "unique" in the same exact way that Damien is and I would hate for that "individuality" to throw any of them on death row.

I wouldn't read another book by Damien because this just wasn't interesting. At at this point, I've given him two shots. I think he would be successful at writing fiction and I would love to listen to him narrate another book that someone else wrote as I found his voice to be quite pleasant.

I want to make it clear that I wish Damien well and am so happy that he was released. If Jason Baldwin writes a book, I will definitely read that. I am really into Jason's positive attitude and I would love to hear his side of things. Good luck in the future if any of you (WM3) ever read this!

6 people found this helpful

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Insightful, Inspiring and Totally Engrossing!

What an intelligent and thoughtful man Damien Echols is. His story at times made me weep, but ultimately it was his triumph of will and spirit that dazzled me. I would be honored to have someone like Damien in my life. Thank you for sharing your life so openly. Nothing but the utmost respect to you, Laurie and everyone who believed in your innocence. Happy life to you and yours Damien!

5 people found this helpful

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Life Changing!

What made the experience of listening to Life After Death the most enjoyable?

The in depth description of poverty and coming of age in a world so different than my own.The idea of how a person overcomes life in prison and finds a way to cope. And I loved that Damien read his own words...powerful!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Life After Death?

The fact that Damien found a way to stay sane in an insane circumstance.

Which scene was your favorite?

Scene after scene of difficulty for Damian proves that I can hold onto hope in my reality.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Already done.

Any additional comments?

This book is a must read! I think all professors dealing with social issues should require everyone to read this. A real eye opener of poverty, the prison system, the justice system, religion and spirituality.

5 people found this helpful

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Like spending time with an old friend

Having seen the 3 Paradise Lost documentaries, and West of Memphis, I was eager to hear from Damien Echols himself.
Needless to say, his story gives an insight into the corruption, injustice and barbarity that exists in the American "justice" system, and that confirms what we all really suspect, but in terms that I've never.....felt, in such a way before. Echols is just as intelligent, soulful and true as he seems in the documentaries, and there's something about his articulate southern drawl that soothes and is without a hint of pretension. He is indeed who he says he is. He speaks of things anyone with a childhood, a sense of nostalgia, of despair, and love and friendship, can relate to. Walking along the riverside listening to Damien, I feel like i'm almost in conversation with him. And if you're anything like me, I suspect you'll feel the same.
I remember in one of the documentaries, him saying he always knew he'd be famous. I think he would have had these tragic events not fallen upon him. He's just one of those people who was destined to make an impact on the world, one way or another.

I think some people will recognize this, and some will not. There's a difference between those two types of people.

I loved this audio book. Of course, watch the documentaries first.

I wish him and his wonderful wife the best.

4 people found this helpful

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I loved every second of this story!

This was beautifully written. A gut wrenching story of personal triumph over the evilness of this world. Narration by Damien was magical!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sam H.
  • 08-08-17

Emotionally charged volt of literary genius !!!

It has ruined audible for me because I will never find a gem like this again. It was a magical experience like almost listening to the wind whisper spells in your ear. The emotions were felt not merely listened to . With moments of light, love, darkness and despair this book will not leave me as it s echo resignatated deep within my soul. Damien Echoll's is the only man to author and narrate such a mesmerizing piece of literary art.

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  • Laura
  • 07-23-18

Absolutely beautifully written, Damien is a very talented writer. The mental strength that he showed through everything is truly amazing.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lee
  • 03-08-18

Fantastic

I have read, listened to and watched nearly everything relating to this case. This is by far the best account from any source I have heard. Damien is a fantastic writer and his narration is beautiful. A must listen.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer Crocker
  • 11-03-17

Inspirational

Watch Paradise Lost and West of Memphis before you read this book. You will then understand how a somewhat geeky 18 year old fought a fight, not just against the Arkansas criminal justice system but himself and won the latter and continues with the former. Hard to comprehend how any human can survive such a travesty of justice and brutality that's off the scale to. He is the top of my I'd like to have a coffee with list. I was disappointed when the Epilogue ended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • A.Connor
  • 11-02-15

recommend absolutely!

'had a reasonable understanding of the WM3 history, route & scenario & in this I found opportunity to reflect some more on the meaning of all of it from Damien's perspective. 'excellent narration.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Helpless
  • 07-06-21

Excellent

A great book by an amazing man. I cried, I smiled I think I felt every emotion listening to this. I didn't want to stop listening.

1 person found this helpful

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  • jackie
  • 10-24-18

Heart breaking, thought provoking, terrifying

I have followed the case of the West Memphis 3 for years, to hear what this man went through, and how a corrupt justice system would have put him to death is awful. his words are heart breaking, real and make you realise how lucky you really are

1 person found this helpful

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  • mathew yorke
  • 02-03-21

beautifully haunting

Truelly a life not many could survive. I listened to this book every moment I could, and every minute touched my heart!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-07-21

Heart wrenchingly real

Damien Echols voice is hypnotic and brings such vivid life to his story! I loved it!

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  • robert David blakely
  • 10-03-20

very sad but happy

was a brilliant story once I started I found it hard not to stop listening to it and I hope one day they will catch the one or ones that actually killed them boys sad he had to go down for it and not the monster that done it