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William McFeely was called upon, as an historian, to be an expert witness in the trial, in rural Georgia, of a convicted kidnapper, rapist and murderer. This was not a role in which he had ever imagined himself. He had no idea that the brief testimony he gave would take him deeply into the criminal justice system, to many courtrooms where unequal struggles take place between those who would condemn prisoners to death and those fighting to the overturn the Biblical injuction of an eye for and eye.;On the first day in court, when he came face to face with the defendant, ""murderer"" ceased to be a category of criminal. Here was a particular person, whose life was in his lawyer's hands. This book began to take shape in McFeely's mind and he set our on a journey out of history into the reality of the death penalty. In this book he tells of his encounters with lawyers battling to end lives and to save them, jurors caught in between, and convicts whose lives were at stake.