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Preview — Last Words of the Executed by Robert K. Elder
Last Words of the Executed
Some beg for forgiveness. Others claim innocence. At least three cheer for their favorite football teams.
Death waits for us all, but only those sentenced to death know the day and the hour—and only they can be sure that their last words will be recorded for posterity. Last Words of the Executed presents an oral history of American capital punishment, as heard from the gal...more
And it is, in a morbid kind of way. Elder tries to keep a journalistic distance from the issue of whether state-inflicted murder is reasonable, but the horror of the whole process comes t ...more
Terkel's foreword sets things up beautifully. No one knows the time of their death. Whether they be common folk, celebrated authors or respected heads of state (as examples), no one knows the day or the hour. How many last words go unrecorded? Sure, I might not have anything important to say when I slip away, but what about Abraham Lincoln (whose last words are unknown)? And yet, for those we've convicted and sentenced to death, we give them this opportunity! Why? ...more
The reality of this book is significantly more mundane than I anticipated. Around 3/4 of the hundreds of entries are Christian platitudes, professions of innocence (even in the face of unshakeable evidence), and apologies to families ...more
What's surprising is the large number of soon-to-be-executed cons who do not protest their innocence, and the large number who blame alcohol abuse as the sole reason for their misdeeds.