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A Handbook on Hanging
A Handbook on Hanging is a Swiftian tribute to that unappreciated mainstay of civilization: the hangman. With barbed insouciance, Charles Duff writes not only of hanging but of electrocution, decapitations, and gassings; of innocent men executed and of executions botched; of the bloodlust of mobs and the shabby excuses of the great. This coruscating and, in contemporary Am ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published October 31st 1999 by NYRB Classics
(first published 1927)
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Jun 04, 2016 Jonathan rated it really liked it
This book is a real oddity, and one well worth the read. A searing polemic indicting the death penalty in England (which was primarily by hanging, but he also touches on other methods of execution), in the guise of a defense of the executioner. Duff's style makes me think of a mid-20th century British version of Stephen Colbert. The NYRB rerelease will primarily be preaching to the choir, but as the book's description states, no matter what your views on capital punishment, you cannot come away ...more
A Handbook on Hanging is an amusing satire that makes its point several times over. A little satire goes a long way, and there is a lot here. I've read some of the reviews that compare Charles Duff with Stephen Colbert. I think the comparison is apt: both the author and Colbert take on the persona of conservative patriot. But Colbert's show lasts only thirty minutes--shorter if you account for commercials--whereas Hanging is 204 densely-worded pages. If you stretched "The Colbert Report" to thre ...more