The Last Gasp: The Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber

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University of California Press, 2010 - History - 325 pages
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"Scott Christianson has masterfully chronicled the history of the use of gas to kill human beings. In doing so, he has shown that the Nazi regime drew strength and comfort from the United States' use of the gas chamber beginning nine years before Hitler took power, as well as from the substantial number of gas chamber executions thereafter. While Christianson doesn't claim that the use of the gas chamber here led to the Holocaust, he does highlight ties between the chemical companies who were involved in both gas chambers in the United States and extermination chambers using gas in the Holocaust. This is a truly thought-provoking and eye-opening book."--Ronald J. Tabak, President, New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty

"Scott Christianson has used his extensive experience as an investigative reporter, criminal justice official, historian, and scholar to probe one of the darkest and most neglected regions of American death penalty history--the story of the gas chamber. This book opens new doors and charts new territory in its gripping historical tale documenting the development and use of lethal gas as a method of execution in the United States. As one well acquainted with the realm of capital punishment history and research, Christianson has produced a stellar work that sheds new light on many of the central issues affecting executions."--Dr. Charles S. Lanier, Director of the Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI), Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center, University at Albany

"By tracing the links between American capital punishment, weapons of mass destruction and Nazi gas chambers, The Last Gasp gives an added dimension to our thinking about the American death penalty. The author has done a great deal of original research and has produced a very thorough history of an interesting and hitherto little known subject."--David Garland, author of The Culture of Control and Punishment and Modern Society

"Christianson has done for lethal gas what others have done for hanging, electrocution, and lethal injection: told its history in a compelling manner. He provides an authoritative story of the way lethal gas was appropriated for use as a technology of execution."--Austin Sarat, author of When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition

"In an astonishing, deeply probing and relentless search of the history of the gas chamber, Scott Christianson has made a vital contribution to the understanding that the quest for a 'humane' method of execution must ultimately be fruitless."--Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman, Founding Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple, Los Angeles and Member, Board of Directors, Death Penalty Focus


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“The earliest gas chamber for execution purposes was constructed in the Nevada State Penitentiary at Carson City and first employed on February 8, 1924 . . . the first execution by gas arose as a ... Read full review


Earl C Listons Patent Application
Persons Executed by Lethal Gas in the United States by State 1924 1999

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About the author (2010)

Scott Christianson is a writer, investigative reporter, and historian. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment in America, winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Distinguished Honors and a Choice Outstanding Book Award. His book Condemned: Inside the Sing Sing Death House was the subject of feature stories in the Village Voice, the New York Times, The Nation, and on the History Channel.

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