Cover image for A handbook on hanging : being a short introduction to the fine art of execution ...
A handbook on hanging : being a short introduction to the fine art of execution ...
Duff, Charles, 1894-1966.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New York Review of Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxviii, 196 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Putnam, 1961.
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
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HV8694 .D8 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
HV8694 .D8 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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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 America, very relevant polemic makes clear that whatever else capital punishment may be said to be--justice, vengeance, a deterrent--it is certainly killing.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This is a chronicle of hanging and other forms of capital punishment throughout history. It is also a tongue-in-cheek commentary on humankind's fervor for public executions and other grisly forms of entertainment. Though published in 1923, this is not out of place in today's society. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xv
Preface to the 1961 Editionp. xxv
Fashions in Executionp. 3
English Neck-Breaking the Bestp. 4
Praise for Hangmenp. 5
A Calm Consideration of Hangingp. 6
Hanging as a Fine Artp. 7
Hangman an Artistp. 8
Sheer Beauty of Hangingp. 9
British Hangmen Poor but Honestp. 10
Hangman a Man of Many Partsp. 12
Hangman a Brave Manp. 13
Hangmen Make Mistakes: John Leep. 14
John Lee Saved by Rain!p. 15
To Err is Human...p. 16
Open Competition and Examination for the Postp. 17
Charming Personality of Hangmenp. 19
A Uniform for Hangmenp. 20
Famous Case Quotedp. 21
Conditioning for Hangingp. 23
No Ill-Will in Hangingp. 24
Bungled Hangingsp. 25
Farcical Inquests and Official Secretsp. 28
Jurymen Must Demand Evidencep. 29
Fashions in Evidencep. 30
Is America more Civilized Than England?p. 31
Broadcasting the Neck-Breakingp. 33
Murders Known to the Police: Statisticsp. 36
Anatomy of English Murdersp. 36
A General Picture and the Dilemmap. 37
House of Lords a Sure Preventive of Abolitionp. 39
A History of the Anti-Hanging Crusadep. 40
Capital Punishment Abolished!p. 40
No Increase in the Number of Murders After Abolitionp. 42
English Hanging "Done on the Sly"p. 45
Why Not Hang in Public?p. 45
Make Hangings More Impressivep. 46
Decline in Hangingp. 47
Increase in Law: Decrease in Virtuep. 48
Vested Interests in Hangingp. 49
Mercy a Dangerous Thingp. 50
Consult the Hangmanp. 51
Dead Men Tell No Talesp. 52
Chance of Errors Reduced to a Minimump. 53
Hanging a "Ritual Sacrifice"p. 54
Hanging and Ritualismp. 55
Extraordinary Case of Derek Bentleyp. 56
The Writing on the Wallp. 57
Party Politics and Hangingp. 58
More Mistakes of Hangmenp. 59
Fun for the Hangmanp. 60
Always Hang Womenp. 61
Romance in a Butcher's Shopp. 62
A Hypothetical Murderp. 63
The End of a Dreamp. 63
Popularity of Murder Trialsp. 64
Plan to Lower the Income Taxp. 65
Hanged for Sheer Stupidityp. 67
A Book Against Hanging!p. 68
Depressing Side of Hangingp. 69
A Famous Modern Hangmanp. 70
The Great Hangman Interviewedp. 71
Pride in Professionp. 73
Love Versus Careerp. 74
More Difficult to Hang One Woman Than Two Men!p. 74
A New Orientation in Capital Punishmentp. 75
Executioners Are Good Christiansp. 76
Digression on the Nazisp. 77
Great Era of Executionp. 78
Royal Executioners and Aristocratic Hangmenp. 79
Executioners Risk Their Livesp. 81
Drinking the Prisoner's Dopep. 83
Imported Hangmenp. 83
Sporting Instinct of the Greeksp. 84
Hangman Who Hanged His Brotherp. 85
On His Majesty's Servicep. 87
The Press and Crimep. 87
Hints for Editorsp. 88
Making Crime Payp. 91
Memoirs of the Hangedp. 91
The "Hangman's Record" Quotedp. 92
Hangman's Magazinep. 93
The Pierrepoint Papers Quotedp. 95
The Condemned Manp. 97
Note on the Literature of Hangingp. 98
Hanging on Stage and Screenp. 100
Still More Mistakes of Hangmenp. 101
All Sorts Make Mistakes--Even Expertsp. 103
Hangmen Not Concerned With Errors of Courtsp. 104
Hanging in the U.S.A.p. 105
The Six Who Were Hangedp. 107
Death Never Instantaneousp. 110
Saving "L'Honneur De La Belle France"p. 112
Disgraceful Plagiarism Exposedp. 113
Electrocution Is Torturep. 115
A Needle Through the Headp. 118
The Rosenbergsp. 119
U.S.A.: Abolition and Caryl Chessmanp. 121
Wider Moral of the Chessman Casep. 122
The Death of Chessmanp. 123
Ugly Stain on Civilizationp. 124
Honors for Hangmenp. 124
Who Ought to Be Hanged?p. 125
George Bernard Shaw Quotedp. 126
Professor Dr. Joad, Wit and Philosopherp. 127
The Great Nuremberg Hangingsp. 129
Defense of a Choice Hangmanp. 131
The Executioner Who Works From a Deskp. 133
Anti-Hanging Campaignsp. 135
Lord Templewood on Hangingp. 137
April 1948: House of Commons Against Hanging!p. 138
House of Lords to the Rescuep. 139
Judicial Psychologyp. 141
Hanging in Suspensep. 143
Post-War Crimes--the Causep. 144
U.S.S.R.--Death Penalty Abolished!p. 145
Soviet Decree of May 1961p. 147
Roman Catholics and State Killingp. 149
Note on Hanging, Drawing, and Quarteringp. 151
Hanging Etc., Bulwarks of the Constitutionp. 153
England's Official Church Favors Hangingp. 154
England's Public Hangingsp. 155
The Bold Fenian Men of Oul' Irelandp. 156
Account of England's Last Public Hangingp. 157
Hangmen Born, Not Madep. 159
Hangman's Verses for His Clientp. 161
The Scienza Nuovap. 162
A Wicked Calumny Refutedp. 163
Spilsbury on the Dropp. 166
Hand-in-Hand With Sciencep. 167
Hanging, Flogging, War, and Sadismp. 168
The Late Mr. Berry on Hangingp. 170
Vital Importance of the Dropp. 170
Mr. Marwood--Pioneer of the New Sciencep. 171
A Rough Working List of Dropsp. 172
Doctor's Advice on Hangingp. 173
The Goodale Mess Explainedp. 173
Doctor Who Erredp. 174
A Hangman's Diplomap. 175
How Hanging Killsp. 177
Note on Pinioningp. 177
Note on Scaffoldsp. 178
Hangman Describes Hangingp. 178
An "Order to Hang"p. 179
The Holy Processionp. 180
Last Scene of Allp. 181
Those Last Fleeting Hoursp. 182
Hangman Shakes Hands and Gets Busyp. 183
Fabulous Speed of English Hangingsp. 183
Scaffold Unaffected By Progress, Revolutions, or Select Committeesp. 184
Britain Stands By Her Hangmenp. 186
The Last Certificatep. 186
The New Homicide Act of 1957p. 187
No Hangings: No Increase in Murders!p. 188
The New Sexual Offenses Actp. 190
Campaign for More Hanging: 1960'sp. 191
England's Defeat Not Always a Victoryp. 192
Homosexuality in England and Francep. 193
Conclusionp. 194
Appendix A Ready Reckoner for Hangmenp. 197