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The Memoirs of a Prague Executioner
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The Memoirs of a Prague Executioner

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  135 ratings  ·  16 reviews
A young man is about to graduate from medical school when a sudden shift of fate changes his life forever. He becomes stuck in the most detested profession for the rest of his life, and he is on his way to becoming the most well-known executioner in the history of Bohemia. Master Jan finds himself in the center of the historical events of the time. The religious and politi ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Createspace
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Autumn
This book could have been so much better. The author did an amazing job with research, background, & setting the stage, then piques your interest about the subject matter. After that though you never really get what you came to find because it is executed very poorly {bad pun ,I know}. It reads like a children's textbook glossing over some of the finer points of the job of an executioner in favor of repeating hanging after hanging & one beheading after another with the main character mov ...more
Patricia
Interesting look at the work and status of executioners in Bohemia in the late 16th-early 17th centuries. Boring and repetitive in parts of the book. Would have benefited by good editing.
Ryan Sanders
During the time the focus of this book, Jan Mydlar, was the master executioner in late 16th to early 17th century Prague, he executed his fair share of...well...executions. Some instances were harder to swallow than others, even for Mydlar, a man accidentally thrust into one of the lowliest and most spat upon professions of medieval times. I shan't spoil the reasons he found himself on the wielding side of the ax, but I can assure you, it's unique to say the least. Needless to say, even though h ...more
danessa
Fascinating

This book deserves several more stars! Normally I wouldn't choose this unique topic or style but I'm more than happy I did! Top three best books I've ever read! Thankyou
Dayle
"Eyewitness" account by the executioner during the Thirty Years war. Historical background is interesting, very dry but it kept my attention.
Vanessa
Wow. I really enjoyed this. Pretty gruesome but engaging and moved quite fluidly. It sure made me think about the differences in the way we treat our criminals in these modern times. In the Middle Ages, in Central Europe at least, the focus was on making examples of criminals by making a spectacle of their torture and punishment. And now, here we are, doing the complete opposite. We bend over backwards to be more humane and with capital punishment, try to inflict the least amount of pain as poss ...more
Erin
I guess I was hoping for something more stylistically approachable as a historical document, but the translation (and/or adapatation - it's not really clear) of the documents into the colloquial, particularly a bunch of criminals talking like Alabama rednecks, kind of threw me. That said, it was an interesting and fairly quick read with tons of interesting detail. I especially loved the details of Prague in the late 16th-early 17th centuries, especially with the aftermath of the Battle of White ...more
Karen  Alarcon
The executioner

This is an an interesting if graphic historical account of torture and public executions. It was interesting to note that while the public enjoyed this form of justice, they considered the executioner an unclean and disgusting person. The way the executioner rationalized his job was a fascinating psychological study.
Kristin
I read this on the reccomendation of a tour guide in Prague when I went last year. I was under the impression it was really his memoir, not historical fiction. It was OK, but not what I was expecting. I wish it would have focused more on the 1621 executions, since that was a big thing in Prague and this didn't really convey that.
Ruth Casey May
Great historical read

I found the history the author used in this book made for an interesting read. Even tho it is "fiction",it is based on true events.
Stephanie Hughes
Really enjoyed this. Not sure how much it stuck to the truth of historic events but still a good read.
Jane
May 17, 2008 Jane rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jane by: Historical Novels Review
Milan Kundera got me hooked on Czech writers. Though I could never imagine reading a book about an executioner, I found this one fascinating because of the history and the story. Some parts are hard because of the horror of torture used in the sixteenth century. Not for the faint of heart. Mirek Katzl's English translation is wonderful.
I found out he is finishing another translation of JEWISH LEGENDS OF PRAGUE. I look forward to that as well. I was in Prague a couple of years ago and was in awe
...more
Peter Kolesnikov


Very graphic descriptions of the methods of torturing and executing convicts in the late 16th to mid 17th century in the Czech lands. I find it a bit plot-less, and try as I might I can't get myself to accept the narrator as one of the good guys. Sure he is doing his job, following orders; but so were the Nazi's, and so are cops who turn on civilians for protesting, etc. All of these are deplorable. But the book is primarily a glimpse into history, and as that it is great.
Neil
Despite the title the book wasn't as graphic as you might initially think. It does give an insight into life in the city during the 16th Century, and also how one decision can affect the rest of your life. I have to admit that I enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone with an interest in Medieval European history
Nicole
I really enjoyed learning about the history of Prague. I liked the fact that it was all based in reality but the narrative became a little repetative.
Peter
Great reference. Confirming previous knowledge and adding new one.
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Josef Svátek (24. února 1835 v Praze - 9. prosince 1897 tamtéž) byl český novinář, kulturní historik a spisovatel, zejména historických románů.
Svátek sice vystudoval reálné gymnázium a následně roku 1858 České vysoké učení technické v Praze, ale pak se věnoval žurnalistice a historii. Byl vrstevníkem májovců a v mládí se přátelil s Adolfem Heydukem. Působil v redakci Pražských novin a Pražského de
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