When the Guillotine Fell: The Bloody Beginning and Horrifying End to France's River of Blood, 1791--1977
How long did the guillotine’s blade hang over the heads of French criminals? Was it abandoned in the late 1800s? Did French citizens of the early days of the twentieth century decry its brutality? No. The blade was allowed to do its work well into our own time. In 1974, Hamida Djandoubi brutally tortured 22 year-old Elisabeth Bousquet in an apartment in Marseille, putting...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by St. Martin's Press
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Very interesting and well written. It alternates between the gruesome case of the last man guillotined in France and the history of capital punishment in the Western world. It also looks at some of the major philosophical schools of thought on the death penalty. I knocked off a star because some of the footnotes seem irrelevant, leaving me thinking, "I stopped reading the story for this??" Occasionally the inconsequential facts would seep up into the main text, like when the author takes most of...more
This book provides a fantastic overview of the history of capital punishment within Europe, specifically, France. The book itself is bifurcated. It tells the story of an Arab-Muslim amputee and criminal from Algeria who was the last man executed in France while also recounting the complex, incredibly fascinating history of the death penalty as it was administered in Europe. Although I strongly disagree with Mercer's conclusions about both the morality and utility of capital punishment, I can't r...more