Stuff in the ‘The Last Lawyer’ Category

22 January, 2014

Where I Write: John Temple

John TempleThe next writer in our Where I Write series is John Temple

“My usual writing spot and position is feet up on the desk of my home office.  It’s a smallish room with a window flanked by two big bookshelves that looks out on our hilly backyard where the boys play baseball.  I have to stand up every 20 minutes or so and stare blankly out the window.  I definitely need to hole up away from people most of the time, but when I’m really deep into a book, I eventually grow sick of spending so many hours in the same room and I will take the laptop elsewhere, to the library at WVU or a coffee shop or some place where I don’t feel like a hermit.  The biggest distinguishing feature of the office is the Big Board, the gigantic cork board on the wall above my computer.  In the photo, it has index cards outlining the major events/scenes/sections of my current book project, color coded and divided by Act I, Act II and Act III.  I tend to put a lot of pictures, maps, advice to myself on it too.  A screenwriting technique.  I’ve used different cork boards over the years and even made one of my own, but this is the biggest one I’ve ever found, about 4X4 feet.  I’m kind of obsessed with it.” — John Temple

John is the author of The Last Lawyer and Deadhouse.  He is currently writing American Pain:  How a 27-year old Felon and Five Doctors Unleashed the Deadliest Drug Epidemic in U.S. History, a chronicle of the rise and fall of the nation’s biggest painkiller trafficking ring in a shocking exposé that is populated by a gaudy and diverse cast of characters that includes the incongruous band of wealthy bad boys, thugs and esteemed physicians who built American Pain, as well as the cops and grieving mothers who labored for years to bring them to justice. Look for it in 2015 from Lyons Press.

19 November, 2013


John Temple’s latest book is UP IN ARMS: How the Bundy Family Hijacked Public Lands, Outfoxed the Federal Government, and Ignited America’s Patriot Militia Movement (Ben Bella Books, June, 2019) chronicles how a once isolated clan of desert-dwelling, ranchers first became a cause-célèbre for hard-right extremists and then transformed themselves into the top dogs of the entire anti-government movement. Temple has a knack for piecing together a riveting true crime page-turner that illuminates larger and important societal issues. In his Edgar-award nominated book, AMERICAN PAIN, Temple chronicled the rise and fall of a game-changing pill mill, and how it helped tip the nation into its current opioid crisis, the deadliest drug epidemic in American history. Similarly UP IN ARMS will use the story of the Bundy family to illuminate the rise of the Patriot militia movement in America. This ever-feuding hodge-podge of alliances is characterized by anti-government wrath, a stubborn stain of white nationalism, and gigantic arsenals of automatic weaponry.

The narrative swings back and forth between Nevada, where a 20-year dispute over grazing fees led to an armed standoff with federal agents, Washington D.C., and Oregon, where Cliven Bundy’s sons took over a federally managed wildlife refuge in 2016. It’s populated by a gaudy and diverse cast of characters. This includes the huge fundamentalist Mormon clan at the center of the story, as well as the militia leaders who educated the Bundys in all things anti-government and enlisted them to become the face of the movement. One of those key figures is now dead, shot by Oregon state troopers on a snowy forest highway as he went for his own gun. Two more fringe Bundy supporters died in an Old West-style shootout after murdering two police officers as they ate lunch in a Las Vegas pizzeria. And dozens more are currently awaiting prosecution in federal court, including the lifelong rancher who stirred up the entire saga.

His previous book“American Pain,” the true story of two young felons who built a colossal pain clinic that sold drugs to addicts, made millions, and couldn’t be stopped. Critics call the book “propulsive,” “exhilarating,” “hysterically funny,” “tragic,” “gripping,” “thrilling,” and “anger-inducing.” The New York Post named it one of their “Favorite Books of 2015,” and Suspense Magazine named it one of the “Best True Crime Books of 2015.” The book was nominated for an Edgar Award and Foreword Reviews named it the INDIEFAB Book of the Year in True Crime.

Temple’s previous book, “The Last Lawyer,” won the 2010 Scribes Award, given by the Society for Legal Writers to honor the year’s best law-related book. “The Last Lawyer” chronicled the nation’s most experienced and innovative death row attorney as he slugged out his toughest case. Leonard Pitts, the Pulitzer-winning syndicated columnist, wrote: “’The Last Lawyer’ is a compulsively readable indictment of a fatally flawed system. It reads like first-class legal fiction but it’s farm more compelling because it is, tragically, legal fact.”

Temple also published a narrative nonfiction book in 2005 called “Deadhouse,” about the exploits of deputy coroners in Pittsburgh. The book shadows the death investigators for year as they work murder scenes in the projects and pull floaters from the Allegheny River.

Temple is a professor of journalism at the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. Before becoming a professor, Temple was a reporter for metro daily newspapers in Tampa and Pittsburgh. He is the father of two sons, and his wife, Hollee Schwartz Temple, is a law professor and author of the inspiring book, “Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood.” For more about John Temple, visit his website at