This book provides a history of the electric chair and analyzes its features, its development, and the manner of its use. Chapters cover the early conceptual stages as a humane alternative to hanging, and the rivalry between Edison and Westinghouse that was one of the main forces in the chair’s adoption as a mode of execution. Also presented are an account of the terrible first execution and a number of the subsequent gruesome employments of the chair. The text explores the changing attitudes toward the chair as state after state replaced it with lethal injection.
About the Author
Professor Craig Brandon teaches writing at Keene State College in New Hampshire. He is the author of numerous articles and a book of popular history, and was a newspaper journalist for two decades. He has served as an on-air expert for PBS, NBC, and History Channel television programs, and lives in Surry, New Hampshire.
Table of ContentsTable of Contents
1 The Genie of the Gilded Age 7
2 The Hangman's Terrible Legacy 25
3 The Death Commission 47
4 The Battle of the Currents 67
5 The People v. William Kemmler 89
6 Westinghouse's Counterattack 106
7 Cruel and Unusual Punishment 134
8 The Human Experiment 160
9 The Reaction: “A Thrill of Indignation” 181
10 The First Era: 1892–1974 205
11 The Electric Chair Reborn: 1976–1998 244