Bill Erxleben has led a life fit for the silver screen. Action, suspense, drama and pursuit of justice are a few words that could be used to describe Erxleben’s life experiences.
Erxleben served as a Washington State assistant attorney general, executive assistant United States attorney for the Western District of Washington, and Seattle regional director of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
In his new memoir, “A Lion Where There Were Lambs,” he tells his story as a crusading lawyer willing to risk his career and reputation in some of the most famous cases in Pacific Northwest history, such as the prosecution of corrupt police officers and the infamous “Seattle Seven,” leftist revolutionaries charged with inciting violence.
Referred to by a political commentator as “Front Page Bill” for his headline-making exploits, Erxleben took on vested interests and the federal bureaucracy and win national acclaim for his zealous commitment to the public interest.
Politicians and industry representatives, upset with his outspoken manner and vigorous enforcement of the law, called for his dismissal three times, including several requests that went all the way to the White House and Congress.
Now, decades after his career, Erxleben chose to disclose new details about the historical legal cases because he feels obligated to inform citizens of these cases’ true history.
“It’s an important time to learn about our state’s history,” he said. “It helps inform us when we’re looking at the problems we have today.”
Erxleben said while the cases took place decades ago, history has a way of repeating itself.
“It’s so easy to look at what’s going on now and become pessimistic,” he said. “History repeats. I wanted to show how things similar to what our state and country are going through now also happened then. It shows that we were able to get through those times and accomplished the changes.”
Erxleben advises Americans to learn from history and exercise moral responsibility by speaking out to preserve the common good.
Writing the memoir provided a few challenges for Erxleben.
“I knew I wanted to share my experiences and the details of these cases, but I didn’t know where to start,” he said.
For his memoir, he researched and pieced together details from the cases to flow well.
“I knew this book would resonate because people can relate to it,” he said. “It’s all about what happened right here and not in some far off place.”
According to Kirkus Review, Erxleben “furnishes not only an edifying account of the foibles of government, but also of a turbulent time in America, when many were infatuated by the allure of ‘violent leftist revolution.’”
Erxleben said he feels happy the memoir is finished and published. Throughout the writing process, he said he enjoyed reflecting back on his life and considering his moral purpose.
“When you look back on your life, you want to be able to say you made your time worthwhile — that you left the world a little better than before,” he said. “That’s how I’ve always wanted to live my life, and I’m glad that I took the risks and chances I did — that I made those choices even when they were against the grain.”
He said he hopes readers will do what they can to fight for what they value.
“You don’t win all your battles, but you can win most if you work hard,” he said. “To preserve democracy, you need to participate. If you value it, you step up and promote the public good and call out the evildoers.”
Erxleben’s book, “A Lion Where There Were Lambs,” was published April 30 and is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.