xiv, 325 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
9780520255623 hardback alkaline paper 0520255623 hardback alkaline paper 9780520945616 e-book 0520945611 e-book
"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." -- Book jacket.
Bibliography, etc. Note
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Formatted Contents Note
Introduction Envisioning the lethal chamber Fashioning a frightful weapon of war Devising "constructive peacetime uses" Staging the world's first gas execution "Like watering flowers" Pillar of respectability The rising storm Adapted for genocide Clouds of abolition The battle over capital punishment "Cruel and unusual punishment"? The last gasp Appendix 1. Earl C. Liston's patent application Appendix 2. Persons executed by lethal gas in the United States, by state, 1924-1999.
KF9227.C2 C47 2010
Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press,