A Handbook on Hanging

Overview

A Handbook on Hanging is a Swiftian tribute to that unappreciated mainstay of civilization: the hangman. With barbed insouciance, Charles Duff writes not only of hanging but of electrocution, decapitations, and gassings; of innocent men executed and of executions botched; of the bloodlust of mobs and the shabby excuses of the great. This coruscating and, in contemporary America, very relevant polemic makes clear that whatever else capital punishment may be said to be--justice, vengeance, a deterrent--it is ...
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Overview

A Handbook on Hanging is a Swiftian tribute to that unappreciated mainstay of civilization: the hangman. With barbed insouciance, Charles Duff writes not only of hanging but of electrocution, decapitations, and gassings; of innocent men executed and of executions botched; of the bloodlust of mobs and the shabby excuses of the great. This coruscating and, in contemporary America, very relevant polemic makes clear that whatever else capital punishment may be said to be--justice, vengeance, a deterrent--it is certainly killing.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This is a chronicle of hanging and other forms of capital punishment throughout history. It is also a tongue-in-cheek commentary on humankind's fervor for public executions and other grisly forms of entertainment. Though published in 1923, this is not out of place in today's society. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Being a short Introduction to the fine Art of Execution, containing much useful Information on Neck-Breaking, Throttling, Strangling, Asphyxiation, Decapitation, and Electrocution; Data and Wrinkles on Hangmanship; with the late Mr. Hangman Berry's Method and his pioneering List of Drops; to which is added an Account of the Great Nuremberg Hangings; a Ready Reckoner for Hangmen; and many other items of interest including the Anatomy of Murder. An Irish native, Duff (1894-1966) wrote plays, travel essays, and other works beside this Swiftian tribute to the unsung public servant. Any original bibliography or index has since been lopped off. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780940322677
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 4.99 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction xv
Preface to the 1961 Edition xxv
Fashions in Execution 3
English Neck-Breaking the Best 4
Praise for Hangmen 5
A Calm Consideration of Hanging 6
Hanging as a Fine Art 7
Hangman an Artist 8
Sheer Beauty of Hanging 9
British Hangmen Poor but Honest 10
Hangman a Man of Many Parts 12
Hangman a Brave Man 13
Hangmen Make Mistakes: John Lee 14
John Lee Saved by Rain! 15
To Err is Human... 16
Open Competition and Examination for the Post 17
Charming Personality of Hangmen 19
A Uniform for Hangmen 20
Famous Case Quoted 21
Conditioning for Hanging 23
No Ill-Will in Hanging 24
Bungled Hangings 25
Farcical Inquests and Official Secrets 28
Jurymen Must Demand Evidence 29
Fashions in Evidence 30
Is America more Civilized Than England? 31
Broadcasting the Neck-Breaking 33
Murders Known to the Police: Statistics 36
Anatomy of English Murders 36
A General Picture and the Dilemma 37
House of Lords a Sure Preventive of Abolition 39
A History of the Anti-Hanging Crusade 40
Capital Punishment Abolished! 40
No Increase in the Number of Murders After Abolition 42
English Hanging "Done on the Sly" 45
Why Not Hang in Public? 45
Make Hangings More Impressive 46
Decline in Hanging 47
Increase in Law: Decrease in Virtue 48
Vested Interests in Hanging 49
Mercy a Dangerous Thing 50
Consult the Hangman 51
Dead Men Tell No Tales 52
Chance of Errors Reduced to a Minimum 53
Hanging a "Ritual Sacrifice" 54
Hanging and Ritualism 55
Extraordinary Case of Derek Bentley 56
The Writing on the Wall 57
Party Politics and Hanging 58
More Mistakes of Hangmen 59
Fun for the Hangman 60
Always Hang Women 61
Romance in a Butcher's Shop 62
A Hypothetical Murder 63
The End of a Dream 63
Popularity of Murder Trials 64
Plan to Lower the Income Tax 65
Hanged for Sheer Stupidity 67
A Book Against Hanging! 68
Depressing Side of Hanging 69
A Famous Modern Hangman 70
The Great Hangman Interviewed 71
Pride in Profession 73
Love Versus Career 74
More Difficult to Hang One Woman Than Two Men! 74
A New Orientation in Capital Punishment 75
Executioners Are Good Christians 76
Digression on the Nazis 77
Great Era of Execution 78
Royal Executioners and Aristocratic Hangmen 79
Executioners Risk Their Lives 81
Drinking the Prisoner's Dope 83
Imported Hangmen 83
Sporting Instinct of the Greeks 84
Hangman Who Hanged His Brother 85
On His Majesty's Service 87
The Press and Crime 87
Hints for Editors 88
Making Crime Pay 91
Memoirs of the Hanged 91
The "Hangman's Record" Quoted 92
Hangman's Magazine 93
The Pierrepoint Papers Quoted 95
The Condemned Man 97
Note on the Literature of Hanging 98
Hanging on Stage and Screen 100
Still More Mistakes of Hangmen 101
All Sorts Make Mistakes--Even Experts 103
Hangmen Not Concerned With Errors of Courts 104
Hanging in the U.S.A. 105
The Six Who Were Hanged 107
Death Never Instantaneous 110
Saving "L'Honneur De La Belle France" 112
Disgraceful Plagiarism Exposed 113
Electrocution Is Torture 115
A Needle Through the Head 118
The Rosenbergs 119
U.S.A.: Abolition and Caryl Chessman 121
Wider Moral of the Chessman Case 122
The Death of Chessman 123
Ugly Stain on Civilization 124
Honors for Hangmen 124
Who Ought to Be Hanged? 125
George Bernard Shaw Quoted 126
Professor Dr. Joad, Wit and Philosopher 127
The Great Nuremberg Hangings 129
Defense of a Choice Hangman 131
The Executioner Who Works From a Desk 133
Anti-Hanging Campaigns 135
Lord Templewood on Hanging 137
April 1948: House of Commons Against Hanging! 138
House of Lords to the Rescue 139
Judicial Psychology 141
Hanging in Suspense 143
Post-War Crimes--the Cause 144
U.S.S.R.--Death Penalty Abolished! 145
Soviet Decree of May 1961 147
Roman Catholics and State Killing 149
Note on Hanging, Drawing, and Quartering 151
Hanging Etc., Bulwarks of the Constitution 153
England's Official Church Favors Hanging 154
England's Public Hangings 155
The Bold Fenian Men of Oul' Ireland 156
Account of England's Last Public Hanging 157
Hangmen Born, Not Made 159
Hangman's Verses for His Client 161
The Scienza Nuova 162
A Wicked Calumny Refuted 163
Spilsbury on the Drop 166
Hand-in-Hand With Science 167
Hanging, Flogging, War, and Sadism 168
The Late Mr. Berry on Hanging 170
Vital Importance of the Drop 170
Mr. Marwood--Pioneer of the New Science 171
A Rough Working List of Drops 172
Doctor's Advice on Hanging 173
The Goodale Mess Explained 173
Doctor Who Erred 174
A Hangman's Diploma 175
How Hanging Kills 177
Note on Pinioning 177
Note on Scaffolds 178
Hangman Describes Hanging 178
An "Order to Hang" 179
The Holy Procession 180
Last Scene of All 181
Those Last Fleeting Hours 182
Hangman Shakes Hands and Gets Busy 183
Fabulous Speed of English Hangings 183
Scaffold Unaffected By Progress, Revolutions, or Select Committees 184
Britain Stands By Her Hangmen 186
The Last Certificate 186
The New Homicide Act of 1957 187
No Hangings: No Increase in Murders! 188
The New Sexual Offenses Act 190
Campaign for More Hanging: 1960's 191
England's Defeat Not Always a Victory 192
Homosexuality in England and France 193
Conclusion 194
Appendix A Ready Reckoner for Hangmen 197
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