"Things I've Learned from Dying: A Book About Life"

Jan 14, 2014

Our guest is David R. Dow, a professor of law at the University of Houston Law Center and an internationally recognized figure in the fight against the death penalty. Dow is also the founder and director of the Texas Innocence Network; he has represented more than 100 death row inmates in their state and federal appeals. He joins us to talk about his new memoir, "Things I've Learned from Dying: A Book About Life," which engagingly synthesizes his tireless work as a death-row attorney --- whereby he sees his clients executed on a dismayingly regular basis --- with two very difficult and close-to-home losses in his own personal sphere, namely the deaths of his father-in-law (from cancer) and his longtime family dog (from acute liver failure). As the noted critic and author Terry Teachout has written of Dow's book: "Sooner or later, death touches every life. Sometimes, though, it comes in legions. This is the story of a death penalty lawyer from Texas who simultaneously watched his father-in-law die of cancer and defended a convicted murderer who didn't deserve to be executed. Few of us can begin to imagine such a shattering coincidence, and fewer still could ever hope to come to terms with it. But David R. Dow did, and has now written a profoundly poignant, singularly wise memoir of his experience. In the midst of death he was --- and is --- in life."