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So often, when someone does something shocking, people want to know: What was he thinking? What was Timothy McVeigh thinking? What about those kids at Columbine? In western Washington, in the fall of 2009, Maurice Clemmons planned to do something shocking. And he left no doubt what he was thinking. The Other Side of Mercy draws upon a stunning trove of records-including a hundred-plus hours of Clemmons' recorded telephone conversations-to describe in remarkable detail Clemmons' past and the steps he took along the way to committing one of the worst crimes in the modern history of the Pacific Northwest.
The Other Side of Mercy recounts Clemmons' childhood in a small Arkansas town that had descended into chaos and economic ruin. Racial hostilities were such that sniper bullets flew and buildings were firebombed. Clemmons turned to burglary and robbery, and, at the age of seventeen, was shipped off to a prison farm system so notorious that it was memorialized in the movie Brubaker. Drawing upon a prison file eighteen-hundred pages thick, The Other Side of Mercy takes readers inside the prison barracks and into the fields, as Clemmons racks up enemies, extorting other inmates and waging fights with makeshift weapons.
Clemmons makes a plea for mercy to Mike Huckabee, the Arkansas governor who later runs for president. After managing to win his freedom, Clemmons moves to Washington state and becomes both predator and prey, dealing drugs while dreaming of wealth through a variety of fantastical enterprises. He believes Donald Trump will make him rich. That he can game the Bank of America. That a self-proclaimed prophet in New York City holds the key to prosperity. Clemmons descends into madness, while making plans of striking back at the people he blames for his lost youth and uncertain future.