Past First-Year Texts
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.
Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America
Will Haygood’s newest book Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America, a sweeping epic about the real-life events surrounding the heated appointment of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice, remains just as impressive as his sixth book The Butler. The New York Times said, “Haygood is passionate and eloquent. [He] has done a great service by reminding us of an extraordinary man at an extraordinary moment.” Since its publication in September 2015, the book has been flying off the shelves. Not only has he received praise from many news outlets such as The Boston Globe “A vivid portrait,” The LA Times “A richly textured account,” and the New York Times Editors’ Choice, but the book has won Ohioana Book Award, the Scribes Book Award and a BCALA Literary Award. On top of that, the book remains a finalist for an NAACP Image Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence and the Benjamin Hooks National Book Award. It has been named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, NPR, The Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Booklist and Baltimore magazine. An even further showing of Showdown’s success, renowned historian Michael Beschloss applauded the book, saying “Wil Haygood has brought us an elegant, fascinating and important tale, rendered with relentless originality. Showdown is a must read.”