From the vantage point of this postmodern time, A. N. Wilson surveys the modern, or Enlightenment, era. In a long series of captivating thumbnail biographical sketches, he documents both the force of the modern mind’s attack on religion and the grief that accompanied it as people lamented losing the aesthetic and moral dimensions of faith. Wilson provides vignettes of almost 40 skeptics or atheists, most of whom were unable to exorcise religion completely from their minds and psyches.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).