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FJI Author Series: “Ghost of the Innocent Man”

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 | 5:30pm - 7:30pm UTC

A Reading Discussion for Judges with the Author, Benjamin Rachlin


A Library Journal Top Ten Book of the Year
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year
A National Public Radio Great Read for 2017

“A crisply written page turner.” –NPR

“Remarkable . . . Captivating . . . Rachlin is a skilled storyteller.” —New York Times Book Review


From the publisher: “During the last three decades, more than two thousand American citizens have been wrongfully convicted. Ghost of the Innocent Man brings us one of the most dramatic of those cases and provides the clearest picture yet of the national scourge of wrongful conviction and of the opportunity for meaningful reform.

When the final gavel clapped in a rural southern courtroom in the summer of 1988, Willie J. Grimes, a gentle spirit with no record of violence, was shocked and devastated to be convicted of first-degree rape and sentenced to life imprisonment. Here is the story of this everyman and his extraordinary quarter-century-long journey to freedom, told in breathtaking and sympathetic detail, from the botched evidence and suspect testimony that led to his incarceration to the tireless efforts to prove his innocence and the identity of the true perpetrator. These were spearheaded by his relentless champion, Christine Mumma, a cofounder of North Carolina’s Innocence Inquiry Commission. That commission–unprecedented at its inception in 2006–remains a model organization unlike any other in the country, and one now responsible for a growing number of exonerations.

With meticulous, prismatic research and pulse-quickening prose, Benjamin Rachlin presents one man’s tragedy and triumph. The jarring and unsettling truth is that the story of Willie J. Grimes, for all its outrage, dignity, and grace, is not a unique travesty. But through the harrowing and suspenseful account of one life, told from the inside, we experience the full horror of wrongful conviction on a national scale. Ghost of the Innocent Man is both rare and essential, a masterwork of empathy. The book offers a profound reckoning not only with the shortcomings of our criminal justice system but also with its possibilities for redemption.”

About the Author: Benjamin Rachlin

Benjamin Rachlin grew up in New Hampshire. He studied English at Bowdoin College, where he won the Sinkinson Prize, and writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he won Schwartz and Brauer fellowships. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The New York Times MagazineVirginia Quarterly ReviewTIMEPacific StandardOrionLitHub, and Five Dials.

Please note: Program participants will have the opportunity to read and discuss Ghost of the Innocent Man with the author in an informal round table setting. Participation will be limited so please register early. A complimentary copy of the book will be distributed prior to the program. A light dinner will be available at the program.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018
5:30pm - 7:30pm UTC
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