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This book details the life and times of one family . The pierrepoint family - Three of whom www employed by the British state as executioners between 1901 - 1956
Steve Fielding's book is an interesting work detailing how one family became so closely tied to capital punishment in Britain in the first half of the 20th century. The book follows three of the Pierrepoint family, Henry, Thomas and Albert all of whom held the title of Chief Executioner at different times during the last century.
the book has been well researched detailing as it does. the application process and training required to become a hangman and make it onto the approved list. in addition. many of the cases are described that lead to the criminals appointment with the noose. interestingly it also talks about the many other people who were involved in judicial executions during the rein of the pierrepoint family. it could also be said that this book charts the decline in popularity of capital punishment the growing strength of the abolishonist movement in the UK especially after some high-profile cases many of whom had an appointment with executioner pierrepoint.
Although this book is about the pierrepoint family or the supporting cast of colleagues and criminals that makes this book so enjoyable
This book was written a bit differently than what I was expecting from the blurb about the book. I was expecting a biography type story of the men and their lives, instead it is mainly a chronicle of their more famous executions. The time frame of the book is from 1903 to 1956 when the death penalty was revoked. The opening of the book is what I was originally expected, in that, it tells about Henry's application to be an executioner, the process at the time to be come one, the interviews he went too and the training he took. Once he started working as an executioner the story mostly changed to the person to be executed and their crime. Albeit, I did find it interesting and noted how murder has evolved in society over the years. I found the stories in World War One and World War Two intriguing the execution changed from murder to treason. The part of the story covering post WWII war crimes trials and executions were fascinating, I am well versed in the American Nuremburg trials but was unaware of the British War Crime Trials of the concentration camp commandants and guards. I would like to learn more about the trials by the Allied countries and how they decided which country would try what type of war crimes. The last part of the book covered the controversy of the death penalty and Albert's response to it. Steve Fielding did a lot of research to gather the material for this story. Norman Gilligan did a great job of narrating the story.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
The Pierrepoint Family were an interesting bunch as they were known for 'telling a few tales'!
I was brought up in post WWII Great Britain. We still had rationing. Women still cried into their aprons at the mention of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be 'dispatched' courtesy of the Crown on that horrible wet and foggy July morning in 1955.
The Pierrepoint men, two brother and one son were three of the Queen's executioners. I think that many people would think that it would be some kind of macabre 'calling'. Perhaps it was, in a way but this volume which is so well and accurately written makes it quite plain that not only were the Pierrepoint 'boys' financially motivated but also were all of the other Executioners on 'The List' of available trained and approved executioners.
I have listened to this book a couple of times as I enjoyed the content but I really could not figure out whether I enjoyed the Narrator's style. Initially I could not figure out whether he was reading a book about this serious yet alarming subject or reading a book of nursery rhymes! All of a sudden I had my "AHA!" Moment! The narrator was reading the facts, just the facts. We have to remember that we are listening to 12 hours of very disturbing facts and not some cheap cheesy 50 cent novel.
This book is a journey and an interesting one at that. Especially if you are like me and you follow it up with a little extra reading. Albert Pierrepoint, after spending many years of dispatching criminals to the abyss changed his mind regarding the Death Penalty. Albert eventually became an ardent abolitionist.
I highly recommend this book.