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The Executioner Always Chops Twice: Ghastly Blunders on the Scaffold
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The Executioner Always Chops Twice: Ghastly Blunders on the Scaffold

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  120 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
A morbidly fascinating mixture of bungled executions ,strange last requests, and classic final one-liners from medieval times to the present day.

Sometimes it's hard to be an executioner, trying to keep someone from popping up to make a quip when they should have spectacularly sunk without a trace. Or to be told that the condemned to the guillotine won't have a last drink f
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 3rd 2004 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2002)
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May 20, 2012 Hannah rated it it was ok
More than a a little bit dry.

The sourcing and research in this book was definitely impressive but it was really just a padded out list. It could definitely have been improved by cutting out about 30% of the listed stories and focusing more on the background of the subjects. For example, we're told about the story of Isabeau Herman from Belgium whose execution almost caused a riot because of her youth and beauty and how she begged for forgiveness for the life she'd led. But who was Isabeau Herman
Aug 16, 2015 Kimmyh rated it liked it
It was certainly interesting, even if morbidly so. I shouldn't have read it as you would a novel, however, as it got to be a bit monotonous and considering the people written about were real and not fictional characters, it shouldn't have felt that way.
Jan 13, 2013 Aoi rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 stars

The morbid topic in itself keeps you turning the pages. A book about the memorable executions taken place in history, with interspersed gallows humour.

Last month Will Summers and John Tipping were executed for housebreaking. At the gallows the hangman was intoxicated with strong liquor and, believing there were three for execution, attempted to put one of the ropes round the parson’s neck, and was with much difficulty prevented by the gaoler from doing so.

One can only admire the panac
Dionna Johnson
Jun 30, 2015 Dionna Johnson rated it it was ok
Sounded interesting but was very boring
Chantelle (aka the Blogmonstar)
So far so good. My only real complaint is the font size on my copy is hard on the eyes (even with my glasses). Some of the blunders are quite interesting though, unfortunately for both the condemned and the executioner.

EDIT - May 26. Finally finished. It was a very interesting book, but prehaps a little longer in places than necessary. Still, it was an informative account of the histpry of ca[ital punishment, the lengths some went to to avoid their punishment and the shift in culture to no long
May 05, 2008 Billy rated it liked it
I borrowed this book from the Henderson County Public Library.

I got this book as part of some research. I like the stories and the hard information it gave. Some of the articles seemed to be written in an attempt to add some more dark humor to the subject but I don't think it succeeded very well or that it was necessary.

It was a very interesting book of recordings of executions throughout the ages. It did yield some good stories for the research side of things and I was educated in the course of
Nov 21, 2014 Tara rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
While broadly accommodating its purpose, this book needed the loving hand of an editor to make it really worthwhile.
Apr 12, 2010 Katy rated it really liked it
Kind of disturbing... scratch that... VERY disturbing... but oddly very interesting. It's disturbing to hear how much thought goes into torturing a human being (even if that person is a bad person), but even more disturbing to hear the part the audience played in executions... how they cheered the executions on, would come days in advance for good seats, etc...
But the history part of the book was really interesting and the last lines were humorous and thought-provoking.
Jan 26, 2009 Colleen rated it liked it
After reading the synopsis of the book I thought it would be humorous in some morbid way, but it wasn't. Abbott gives a small summery of the crime, and the circumstances surrounding the botched executions. It’s very academic with lots of primary sources and very interesting. It’s a good book if you’re interested in European history and criminals although there are events that happen in America.
Linda Lipko
Sep 01, 2009 Linda Lipko rated it really liked it
A quick book to read on an airplane when you want diversion but nothing to read that is in depth.

Because I'm fascinated by European history, I thought I'd read this book containing stories of the executions of Mary Queen of Scots, Anne Boleyn and various other notables.

Amid the gore, the author mixed facts with humor.
Sep 23, 2007 Shanna rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Megan
A really interesting book detailing all sorts of horrible things that went wrong with public executions. Oddly enough, some of the stories had really happy endings.

At times, the "mistakes" tended to repeat which led to some parts (particularly the "hanging" bit. But otherwise, this book was both interesting and disturbing.
Jul 12, 2010 Andrea rated it it was ok
This was an entertaining read for the first half, talking about various execution methods... the second half focuses on real people's stories on how they were executed. It was a little redundant, but still somewhat interesting. I admit I skimmed through the second half.
Trixie Jack
Jul 03, 2012 Trixie Jack rated it liked it
Fairly dry, but is nevertheless a good overview of the means of execution in Western Europe and the United States, as well as some of the more popular stories and tidbits.
Well written but repetitive - nothing outstanding in the way of mistakes and the same mistakes were repeated often. Fewer quotes than I had expected given the blurb.
May 25, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, nonfiction, history
This book is bunch of short anecdotes about executions and the executed. I hope I have something pithy to say when I meet my maker like some of these condemned men.
Jennifer Daniel
Oct 29, 2008 Jennifer Daniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This morbid compilation was right up my sick and twisted alley! As if public execution wasn't fun enough, a botched one is twice as nice.
Angie Lisle
Jul 29, 2011 Angie Lisle rated it liked it
The writing is dry but the macabre stories keeps you turning the page for more.
Nov 25, 2008 Carfet rated it it was amazing
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Geoffrey Abbott served for many years as a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London. Author of nineteen books and contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica/, he has made numerous television appearances. He lives in London.
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