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Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle Award, Biography/Autobiography, 1995

Mikal Gilmore is the youngest brother of Gary Gilmore, executed at his own urging for the murder of two innocent men. His execution by firing squad in 1977 was the first enactment of the death penalty in America in over a decade; it became the first of many, inspiring a new enthusiasm, some believe, for capital punishment in the U.S. Gary Gilmore's last days became the subject of The Executioner's Song, an award-winning book by Norman Mailer and a television film starring Tommy Lee Jones.

But the true story of Gary Gilmore lies in the story of his family, a painful and difficult one that has taken Mikal Gilmore many years to face. In researching his family's history, he searched through 300 years of ancestral records, many of which were provided by the extensive archives of the Mormon Church - the history of which plays a fascinating role in this haunting memoir. Mikal also tracked down lost family members, discovering in the end a story even more troubling than his memories.

In an eloquent, mesmerizing voice, Mikal Gilmore weaves us through generations of his family's history to uncover the sources that led Gary Gilmore to murder, and the crippling aftermath of Gary's deed on his family. A vital and deeply American story, Shot in the Heart raises many compelling issues of concern in a country that grows ever more violent.

©1994 Mikal Gilmore; (P) Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, All Rights Reserved

Critic Reviews

"Articulate, brave, and heartbreaking." (Kirkus Reviews)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Affected writing and production

The story, although dark and troubling, is moving. The writing is a bit affected -- the author tries too hard to be expressive and insightful. The same over-effort can be seen in the production as well. The narrators?f whispery voice is too dramatic and the musical interludes remind me more of Public Radio's Mystery Theater than a narrated book. The overall effect is the feeling of someone trying to manipulate the listener?fs emotions. This is a book that I would recommend, but it could be much better if the author and producers didn't try so hard for the dramatic and theatrical.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

too bad it's abridged

This is the first audiobook I ever read, but since then I have heard hundreds. It remains one of my favorites, although I believe it is a crime to abridge books, and didn't realize they did such a thing when I bought it years ago. Mikal Gilmore is a wonderful writer, and the story of his family is haunting and transfixing. He paints a portrait of his family, beginning with his mysterious paternal grandmother and his mother's mormon family in Utah, and reviewing the physical and psychological destruction that follows. It is far better than any Stephen King novel, and it is the true story of a family, told by its only successful member.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Punch in the Gut

This book is not everyone's cup of tea, but if you are looking for something that is haunting and heart rending this is it. While The Executioner's Song is the definitive story of Gary Gilmore's crimes and events that lead to his death, this is the definitive story of the demons that lived in the heart of each of the Gilmore boys. I especially appreciated the discussion of blood atonement and Gilmore's inherent need to bleed for his sins. The only thing that made me upset was realizing this is an ABRIDGED version!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • chris
  • las vegas, NV, United States
  • 04-10-10

I'm glad its shortNo

I wanted to like this book. It reminds me because of the time period, of In Cold Blood a little bit. that the stories are similar, but the time period. What got annoying about the book was that the author tries to hard to be spooky. He consistently talks about his dreams and ghosts. I didn't care after a while. I went into this book without knowing anything about the case and still didn't know much about what had happened until the book's close. I give it three stars, because the narration was good. And its not horrible. And I think some people might like it although I did not.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Shot in the heart

Shot in the heart. Excellent story teller. Loved his presentation with music and his personal involvement.

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good

if you know the story then this adds more to the family dynamics. I liked it alot.

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Shorten version

I actually got this to follow along with the book and HUGE chunks were missing, which really confused me and eventually I put the book down to just listen to this version.

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IfYou want to understand family dysfunction....

Shot in the Head is an insightful, beautifully told true story of an incredibly dysfunctional, weird family. Mikal Gilmore is a great writer and gives psychological insights that are rare even in a trained psychiatrist/psychologist. The reader is wonderful, and you would believe he is Mikal Gilmore himself, he reads with such sensitivity and mood. My only regret is that it is abridged. The book is a wonderful supplant to Mailer's book, Executioner's Song, delving into Gary Gilmore's parents and family dynamics.

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  • Story
  • Elizabeth
  • Oklahoma City, OK, United States
  • 11-06-12

Sad Story

Would you consider the audio edition of Shot in the Heart to be better than the print version?

The audio version was moving because it tells a family story.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite character was the author. He had a lot of loss, but still got into the "causes" within his family and the tragedies that occurred. He had a lot of insight but appeared to obtain this it only because he was a victim of all of it.

Which character – as performed by Will Patton – was your favorite?

The author - Mikal Gilmore - most of us knew about his famous brother, but not about him.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Shot in the Heart

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  • Story

this came very close to home...

This book is a classic when read by this narrator. I live in this area and actually know people that knew this family, but even without this personal element factored in, I think this is a great story.

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  • Overall
  • Rachel
  • 05-14-11

A good conclusion to the story

It is imperative to have read or know the story of Gary Gilmore to fully take advantage of the background this book gives. I read Norman Mailer's book many years ago because I was intrigued at the time of Gilmore's death by the State. This book gives a rounded account of the family life of the children as they grew up and how that life affected them and made them all feel as they became adults. Definitely an excellent follow up to the life of Gary Gilmore and his family. Was easy to listen to and the narrator wasn't intrusive.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful