- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-13 : 979-8577364458
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.48 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Notoir Books (December 6, 2020)
- Language: : English
You have in your hands the memoir of James Berry (1852–1913), the first truly literate hangman, and the first to write about his position.
Mr. Berry’s occupation was not by any means taken up from a love of the ghastly, or any pleasure in the work. Even in his business as executioner his soft-heartedness has shown itself, for though it has never caused him to flinch on the scaffold, it has led him to study most carefully the science of his subject, and to take great pains to make death painless.
A fascinating aspect of the book are Berry’s recollections of notable executions and criminals, his discussions of their crimes, and analysis of their demeanors at trial and death. Included is a chapter of his opinions on various execution methods used around the world, with his conclusion that the British long-drop hanging method was the most humane, and a chapter on hanging from a business point-of-view. The writings are peppered throughout with his views on the moral and social implications of capital punishment.
This book is a sensitive and thoughtful account of what Berry himself admitted was a troubling profession.