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

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University of California Press, Jul 12, 2010 - History - 344 pages
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The Last Gasp takes us to the dark side of human history in the first full chronicle of the gas chamber in the United States. In page-turning detail, award-winning writer Scott Christianson tells a dreadful story that is full of surprising and provocative new findings. First constructed in Nevada in 1924, the gas chamber, a method of killing sealed off and removed from the sight and hearing of witnesses, was originally touted as a "humane" method of execution. Delving into science, war, industry, medicine, law, and politics, Christianson overturns this mythology for good. He exposes the sinister links between corporations looking for profit, the military, and the first uses of the gas chamber after World War I. He explores little-known connections between the gas chamber and the eugenics movement. Perhaps most controversially, he has unearthed new evidence about American and German collaboration in the production and lethal use of hydrogen cyanide and about Hitler’s adoption of gas chamber technology developed in the United States. More than a book about the death penalty, this compelling history ultimately reveals much about America’s values and power structures in the twentieth century.
 

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User Review  - BlackSheepDances - LibraryThing

“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

Contents

List of Illustrations
Envisioning theLethal Chamber
Devising Constructive Peacetime Uses
Staging the Worlds First Gas Execution
Like Watering Flowers
Pillar of Respectability
THE FALLOF THE GAS CHAMBER 9 Clouds of Abolition 10 The Battle over CapitalPunishment
The Last Gasp
x
State 19241999
xxii
Notes
2
Select Bibliography
1997
Index
2000

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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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