Imagine being condemned to death for murder, when even the prosecutors admit that you didn’t actually kill anyone. This is what happened to Richard Glossip, a death row inmate who was convinced largely on the testimony of the self-confessed killer of motel owner, Barry van Treese. Despite this shocking turn of events, the state of Oklahoma is still intent on executing him, raising international outcry and controversy.
Ian Woods, a reporter for Sky News in the UK, came across the case one quiet afternoon, and has tirelessly campaigned ever since to bring the injustices Glossip has faced to the world’s attention. He has even served as an invited witness to Glossip’s three scheduled executions – all of which were stayed at the last possible moment. This is the gripping true story of the case, and their turbulent friendship, written by a man with unparalleled first-hand knowledge and access. A tense mix of Dead Man Walking and Making A Murderer, Surviving Execution combines the very best in true-crime writing with a searching exploration of our most barbaric punishment.
I can safely admit that Surviving Execution is like no other book I’ve read before! Ian Woods provides a first-hand account into the trial and penultimate death penalty sentence of motel manager Richard Glossip, in a way which forces the reader to question not only Richard’s innocence but more broadly the death penalty as a form of punishment.
I loved the way the chapters were arranged – by giving a brief history of capital punishment in America and across the world, Woods sets the scene for just how severe Glossip’s sentencing is and why it became so controversial. I felt myself going through the same rollercoaster of emotions as the spectators to Glossip’s ever-changing fate, which made the book such a page turner.
I also grew extremely fond of the maturing relationship between Wood and Glossip as they bonded on a personal and professional level. To have got to know Glossip so well over the years ensured the book felt personable and had a sophisticated level of detail which left no clue unturned or opinion ignored. I was therefore disappointed that their relationship took the turn that it did at the end, as I’m sure Woods was after building a friendship he valued.
Overall, this is easily a 5* read and one I will be thinking about for a long time!