George Crithlow's The Lifer and The Lawyer
Maxy Award Runner Up

Maxy Award  Runner Up non-fiction category

New Book

George Critchlow, author of Travels with Vamper: A Graybeard’s Journey, has a new book available for purchase. The Lifer and the Lawyer: A Story of Punishment, Penitence, and Privilege is about Michael Anderson, an aging African American man who grew up poor and abused on Chicago’s south side, then came to Eastern Washington, and has now spent the last forty-three years in Washington prisons. The book describes Michael’s early life of trauma and crime, his trial in a conservative white community before a bigoted judge, his moral and spiritual transformation in prison, and a curious friendship that started in 1979 when the author was a young lawyer appointed to represent Anderson on twenty-two violent felony charges. Partly about race and white privilege and partly about a criminal justice system that keeps harmless old men in prison until they die, the book also raises larger questions about faith and what it is that determines our individual destinies.

The Lifer and the Lawyer: A Story of Punishment, Penitence, and Privilege contributes to the ongoing national discussion about sentencing, rehabilitation, and racially disparate treatment. Unlike other books, it is not about an innocent man suffering an unjust prison sentence; rather, it is about a guilty man who was truly dangerous in his youth, who has not been dangerous for decades, and who has mostly been forgotten, separated from his family, and left to languish in a prison cell in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert.

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“Michael Anderson’s story, elegantly told by George Critchlow, is a timely and moving testament to the power of faith, transformation, and the idea that any system that aspires to justice must account for the possibility of redemption.”  

Russell Kolts, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Eastern Washington University
Author of An Open-Hearted Life and The Compassionate Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger

“A collaborative effort between a white criminal defense lawyer and his incarcerated African American client, The Lifer and the Lawyer is a true story of crime, punishment, and redemption. The narrative adeptly and unflinchingly raises questions about childhood neglect, unequal opportunity, excessive sentencing, racial bigotry, and the role of faith in redeeming lost souls. The Lifer and the Lawyer is a compelling and uplifting read that makes a meaningful contribution to the national dialogue on criminal justice reform.”  

Mary Pat Treuthart, JD
Professor of Law, Gonzaga University School of Law

Michael released from prison.

UPDATE: Michael Is Free

On June 8th,  Michael Anderson was released from prison after 43 years of incarceration. He looked healthy, excited, and filled with expectation. He is looking forward to reuniting with his wife and family, working with young men at risk, and exploring opportunities to generate income. This has obviously been a long road for Michael but a comment he made to me 24 hours after his release captured the meaning of freedom in a simple but profound way. I asked him what had been most impactful in his first day beyond prison walls. He said: “That’s easy, George — the trees. The trees are amazing.”


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Available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook (on Amazon) and digital.

Author George Critchlow

More About George Critchlow

George Critchlow is an emeritus professor who taught law at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington for many years. He is also an experienced trial lawyer with civil and criminal experience in state courts, federal courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

He has taught international human rights law and consulted in Europe, South America, and the Middle East. Critchlow’s interest in fairness, equal opportunity, and civil liberties has been a central part of his professional life.

He has now transitioned from a world of legal briefs and law review articles to creative writing that has freed him to say what he wants without lots of tedious footnotes.

George Critchlow's Book Travels with Vamper: A Graybeard's Journey

Latest Release

Travels with Vamper: A Graybeard’s Journey

This is a story about Critchlow’s solo two- month journey into Middle America to celebrate his retirement and reflect on life, culture, and the past. It is a real journey — through the West, the Bible Belt, and Missouri River country — in Vamper, Critchlow’s affectionate name for his 1999 Ford Coachmen camper van. But it is also about Critchlow’s life journey, about race, religion, the environment, and a divided America in the age of Donald Trump. Critchlow weaves together people, places, historical anecdotes, political observations, legal tales, and personal history in a way that helps explain the competing narratives in American society today. His journey also tells us something about how a baby boomer might look back and look forward as he moves into his senior years and faces the challenge of retirement.

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What The Critics Say


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… an absolute delight to read…

“Travels with Vamper is an absolute delight to read, and I’ll break with my tradition in reviewing books and say, right off the bat, that I hope Critchlow considers writing more books as part of his new life.


Jack Magnus, for Readers’ Favorite

“Hugely entertaining!”


Divine Zape, for Reader's Favorite

“The author’s voice drew me in from the very first page.”


BookishCreature, for

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