Writer Gilbert King Discusses Botched Execution

Gilbert King will read from The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder and the Search for Justice in the American South at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, in the Hatfield Room in the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University. The event is free and open to the public.

King's book is a "well-wrought tale of murder, secrets, lies and state-sponsored and state-botched retribution," according to Kirkus Reviews.

The executioner's switch was thrown, but Willie Francis didn't die. Having survived his first encounter with capital punishment, Willie was soon informed that the state would try to kill him again in six days.

"Gilbert King transforms abstract arguments over Louisiana's right to re-execute a condemned youth into a profound story of flesh and blood," wrote Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking. "His impassioned portrait of the unlikely bond between Willie Francis and his undaunted lawyer is more than a heartwarming affirmation of love and humanity. It's a vitally important story, and if you want to better understand America's troubling legacy of capital punishment, read this book."

"From the first page to the last, King holds our attention with gripping and disturbing details," wrote the Library Journal, which selected the book as a Library Journal Editor's Pick.

King has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. He authored Woman, Child For Sale: The New Slave Trade in the 21st Century, selected by the Detroit Free Press as one of its ten notable books for 2004. He was interviewed for the award-winning documentary narrated by Danny Glover, Willie Must Die Again.

King is also a photographer whose work has appeared in many U.S. magazines, including Glamour, Jane and New York Magazine, as well as international editions of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan.

For information contact Olympia Vernon at (503) 370-6290 or