Lord High Executioner: An Unashamed Look at Hangmen, Headsmen, and Their Kind by Howard Engel is a non-fiction book with an overview of the history of executions and the executioners themselves. The book mainly focuses on Europe in general and England in particular.
- 256 pages
- Publisher: Robson Books Ltd; 1st Ed. edition (January 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1861050968
Lord High Executioner: An Unashamed Look at Hangmen, Headsmen, and Their Kind by Howard Engel is a morbidly fascinating book. Executions throughout history has always fascinated people and were noted for having a festival type atmosphere not too long ago.
Executions were used as a form of punishment, where citizens and leaders hoped that the witnesses would avoid breaking the same laws as to avoid a gruesome end. The job of executioner was considered a low, dirty job and those who practiced it where often shunned from society even though the judges to handed down the sentence (and hence just as guilty as the mechanic carrying out the orders) were not treated as such.
The book does a good job giving the reader an overview of the methods of execution (hanging, drowning, beheading, burning and more) and a quick portrait of some of the more famous and notorious executioners. Some executioners raised the level of the occupation to a profession and came up with ways to hasten death as a favor to their victim. That’s how methods to break the neck when hanging came about, or cut off heads on one, swift motion.
Mr. Engel’s sense of humor comes through the narrative, I find myself laughing at his macabre narrative way to often then I thought when it comes to reading a book of this subject.
But I’ve been known to have a dark, sarcastic sense of humor (to my poor wife’s dismay). This book is well researched, well written and highly recommended (however some of the descriptions are not for the feint of heart).
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
*Amazon links point to an affiliate account