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A Wilderness of Error


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Errol Morris is a world-renowned filmmaker-the Academy Award- winning director of "The Fog of War" and the recipient of a MacArthur "genius award." His other films include "Standard Operating Procedure, Mr. Death, Fast Cheap and Out of Control, A Brief History of Time, The Thin Blue Line," and, most recently, "Tabloid." He is the author of "Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography."


"The literary equivalent of one of [Morris's] movies. It s a rough-hewed documentary master class.... "A Wilderness of Error "upends nearly everything you think you know about these killings and their aftermath. Watching Mr. Morris wade into this thicket of material is like watching an aggrieved parent walk into a teenager s fetid, clothes- and Doritos-strewed bedroom and neatly sort and disinfect until the place shines. ...He will leave you 85 percent certain that Mr. MacDonald is innocent. He will leave you 100 percent certain he did not get a fair trial... If this headstrong book doesn t change your sense of the Jeffrey MacDonald case, I'll eat my Chuck Taylors." Dwight Garner, "The New York Times" "Critics sometimes confuse great books with important books exceptionally written literature isn't always the same as literature that can powerfully affect society. But "A Wilderness of Error "is both great and important it's a beautifully written book, and it has the potential to change the way the country thinks about a justice system that has obviously lost its way." Michael Shaub, NPR "Mr. Morris has produced a brilliant book about the vulnerability of justice to the preconceptions of prosecutors and the power of certain narratives to crowd out all others, even highly plausible ones. I strongly recommend this book." "Wall Street Journal" ""A Wilderness of Error" is a beautifully produced book, with chapters set off by line drawings of crucial objects in the case: a toppled coffee table, a flower pot, a rocking horse. It s reminiscent of the recurring images in 'The Thin Blue Line, ' iconic and mysterious, always on the verge of revealing the secrets they stand for but never quite yielding them. Morris may geek out on minutiae and hypotheticals, but he is enough of an artist to convey that every crime scene is a dialogue between time, as it sweeps away the irrecoverable past, and the material world." "Salon" "Morris s thoroughly engrossing and exhaustively researched book is the product of more than two decades of work... As is nearly always the case in any Morris project, the character studies are magnificent, the attention to detail extraordinary, and the effect on the audience is dizzying, disorienting, and thought-provoking." "The Boston Globe" "Morris has been researching the case for over two decades, and the result of his inquiries is a thorough and compelling argument for the incarcerated doctor's innocence, a sobering look at the labyrinthine justice system, and a feat of investigative perseverance." "Publishers Weekly" (starred review)"

Morris provides an exhaustive study of the infamous murder case involving Jeffrey MacDonald, a military doctor who was convicted, perhaps wrongly, of the brutal 1970 murders of his pregnant wife and two small children. From the beginning, MacDonald claimed that "four hippies" broke into his home, attacked him, and killed his family. Morris examines everything related to the MacDonald case, from the vicious murders and the initial-some say sloppy and biased-investigation that lead to MacDonald's 1979 conviction, to MacDonald's present-day claims of innocence from his prison cell. This audiobook clocks in at over 14 hours, and it's easy to imagine it coming across as a dry recitation of facts and statistics in the hands of another narrator, or being presented with an over-the-top sensational reading, but John Pruden keeps his narration simply and believable while delivering a mountain of trial evidence, testimonies, and interviews. And this ultimately makes for a more compelling listen. A Penguin hardcover. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Joe McGinniss's true-crime book Fatal Vision famously blamed physician Jeffrey MacDonald for the 1970 murder of MacDonald's wife and two young daughters. Here Morris (Believing Is Seeing) argues for MacDonald's innocence. The narration is superb; Jeff Pruden changes accents and tones dexterously, navigating the book's wealth of material-interviews, crime lab reports, and court testimony-with finesse. Only one of the possible narratives about MacDonald is true, and readers who have followed all accounts will come away with less rather than more clarity. Still, the book raises fascinating questions about the nature of truth and journalistic responsibility. Verdict Highly recommended for those familiar with this story. ["The Academy Award-winning director of films like The Thin Blue Line, Morris bravely goes where others have dared to go before.. Bound to be in demand," read the review of the New York Times best-selling Penguin hc, LJ 3/1/12.-Ed.]-Victoria A. Caplinger, NoveList, Durham, NC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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