Jeff Glor talks to Raymond Bonner about "Anatomy of Injustice."
JG: What inspired you to write the book?
RB: The case of Edward Lee Elmore, a semi-literate African American who was tried, convicted and sentenced to death ninety days after the battered body of a wealthy white widow was found in her closet in Greenwood, South Carolina; combined with the personal story of Diana Holt, who overcame extraordinary adversity to become a death penalty lawyer. When Elmore met Holt, it was the first break he had ever had, and she fought tenaciously for nearly twenty years to save his life. Elmore's case is a tragic story of the damage bad lawyers can do, and an inspirational story of what a good one can do.
JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?
RB: The need to go beyond the story of Holt and Elmore, to examine the nature of the American legal system in the administration of capital punishment. I had a brilliant editor, Jonathan Segal, who pushed me to broaden the book, asking me questions in the margin of the manuscript: "What is the role of the defense lawyer?" "What is the role of the prosecutor?" I learned much I hadn't known about the history of the adversarial legal system -- in early English common law, for example, there were no lawyers, only the victim and accused, telling their stories to a judge.
JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
RB: Gainfully employed.
JG: What else are you reading right now?
RB: "What Remains," a novel about a female foreign correspondent, by the Australian author Denise Leith. It's at once gritty and philosophical. Also "The Sealed Letter," by Emma Donoghue, and "The United States and Torture," edited by Marjorie Cohn.
JG: What's next for you?
RB: I wish I knew. I'm a vagabond. I went from being a lawyer to being a journalist. I've moved every four years or so, lived on every continent (except Antarctica), and reported from one hundred countries.
I'm often asked, "What's your next book?" To which I reply: "You can only write a book when you cannot not write it." "Anatomy of Injustice" was certainly that book. I don't have another one yet.
For more on "Anatomy of Injustice," visit the Random House website.