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The Last Gasp: The Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber
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The Last Gasp: The Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  33 ratings  ·  5 reviews
The Last Gasp takes us to the dark side of human history in the first full chronicle of the gas chamber in the United States. In page-turning detail, award-winning writer Scott Christianson tells a dreadful story that is full of surprising and provocative new findings. First constructed in Nevada in 1924, the gas chamber, a method of killing sealed off and removed from the ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by University of California Press (first published June 1st 2010)
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An obviously gruesome topic, thoroughly researched and exhaustively documented, I found it on the whole both interesting and uneven. The author goes to great lengths to describe opposing viewpoints on the use of cyanide gas as a 'humane' way of executing condemned US death row prisoners. I think this topic is treated fairly, and understand the arc of reasoning that occurred in the US from the time of firing squads, hangings, and electrocution, to the end of the 20th century. The author though ma ...more
“The earliest gas chamber for execution purposes was constructed in the Nevada State Penitentiary at Carson City and first employed on February 8, 1924 . . . the first execution by gas arose as a byproduct of chemical warfare research conducted by the U. S. Army’s Chemical Warfare Service and the chemical industry during the First World War . . .”

From the advantage of current access to court cases and other documents, Scott Christianson has compiled a weighty tome devoted to the history of the
Jerry Smith
A valuable contribution to the debate on capital punishment. Puts the use of the gas chamber as a means of execution into it's historical context and it's not a pretty story.

It's a speicialist subject no doubt but I had never realized the links with Eugenics and also the holocaust. Sometimes these are little stretched to be honest, but they do make the context of the gas chamber a more thought provoking read.

It's clear that such executions are not humane despite that being the rationale behind t
Kay Cee
The author states that he was not going into the sociological aspects of the gas chamber, but its inclusion might have made the book a bit more interesting. Still, it was a good read on the history of the gas chamber as a capital punishment if not a bit dry.
Alex Raines
Oct 23, 2012 Alex Raines marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, science
It was okay, but not well-written in spots. Large spots.
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