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Last Words of the Executed

Un libro in lingua di Elder Robert K. Terkel Studs (FRW) edito da Univ of Chicago Pr, 2010

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"This is a dangerous book. Who knows how we will emerge from the encounter? It makes me want to live, use my energies in soul-sized pursuits like justice, like love. One of the psalms says that God collects our tears in a flask---so too does this collection of last words from human beings before they were killed."

"This is a powerful, haunting book. Whether you favor or oppose the death penalty, you won't think about it the same way after reading the last words of the condemned---some remorseful, some spiteful, some humorous, all tragic. Most horrifying is the realization that some of those who claimed innocence until the end probably were telling the truth."

Some beg for forgiveness. Others claim innocence. At least three cheer for their favorite football team. Death waits for us all, but only those sentenced to death know the day and the hour---and only they can be sure that their last words will be recorded for posterity. Last Words of the Executed presents an oral history of American capital punishment, as heard from the gallows, the chair, and the gurney.

The product of seven years of extensive research by journalist Robert K. Elder, the book explores the cultural value of these final statements and asks what we can learn from them. We hear from both the famous---such as Nathan Hale, Joe Hill, Ted Bundy, and John Brown---and the forgotten, and their words give us unprecedented glimpses into their lives, their crimes, and the world they inhabited. Organized by era and method of execution, these final statements range from heartfelt to horrific. Some are calls for peace or cries against injustice; others are accepting, confessional, or consoling; still others are venomous, rage-fueled diatribes. Even the chills evoked by some of these last words are brought on in part by the shared humanity we can't ignore, their reminder that we all come to the same end, regardless of how we arrive there.

Last Words of the Executed is not a political book. Rather, is simply asks: If these are the most outcast, reviled members of society, why does it remain a cultural value this ritual? The result is a riveting, moving testament from the darkest corners of society.

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