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

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  93 ratings  ·  14 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...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 3rd 2004 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2002)
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Hannah
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...more
Aoi
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...more
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...more
Billy
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...more
Katy
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.
Colleen
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
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.
Shanna
Sep 23, 2007 Shanna rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
Andrea
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
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.
Rochelle
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.
Kate
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 Patrick
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
The writing is dry but the macabre stories keeps you turning the page for more.
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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.
More about Geoffrey Abbott...
What a Way to Go: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to Death Rack, Rope and Red-Hot Pincers: A History of Torture and Its Instruments The Book of Execution: An Encyclopedia of Methods of Judicial Execution Execution Amazing True Stories Of Execution Blunders

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