The Lifer and the Lawyer: A Story of Punishment, Penitence, and Privilege

Category: Biographies and Memoirs
Author: George Critchlow with Michael Anderson
Publisher: Cascade Books
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Number of Pages: 210
ISBN-10: 1725278370
ISBN-13: 9781725278387
ASIN: 1725278370

Michael Anderson is an African American who grew up poor and neglected in south Chicago.  His circumstances transformed him into a violent and predatory criminal. Anderson was caught in a crime spree in 1978 resulting in multiple felony charges and convictions, which led him to spend the last forty-three years  in prison. Against all odds, Anderson transformed himself spiritually and morally over the course of several decades. He challenged society's perceptions of him as an incorrigible monster and he redeemed himself through the power of faith and knowledge.

The Lifer and the Lawyer: A Story of Punishment, Penitence, and Privilege retells Anderson's story, through the lens of his white lawyer, George Critchlow in collaboration with Anderson himself. The country's justice system gives life sentences to individuals deemed to be beyond salvation, but is there really such a thing? Harmless old men sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes of their youth spend years inside prison walls and die within those walls without a glimmer of hope. Critchlow discusses heavy topics such as privilege, race, culture, and the power of opportunity in this brilliant book. It is riveting, inspiring, and filled with manifold lessons about survival, life, and hope. This is one of the rare books that will challenge readers to rethink the way they look at crime and the justice system.

The writing is superb and the deft exploration of themes of race, religion, past traumas, our current justice system, and the true purpose of punishment makes the book a must-read. This book is for all who want to know about the detrimental effects privilege, social and racial divide can have on a country and its people. It is intelligently written and one of the few books with social and cultural commentaries that will inspire frank and life-changing conversations amongst readers. A perfect book for book clubs.

Reviewed By: Daniel Rhodes


Date: January 21, 2022

Biography & Memoir