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Pierrepoint: A Family of Executioners Hardcover – 1 Feb 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Blake Publishing Ltd; 1st ed edition (1 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844541924
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844541928
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 314,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Steven Fielding is the author of several historical crime titles such as The Hangman's Record and The Murder Casebook Series. He has worked as the Historical Consultant on the Discovery Channel series The Executioners and has contributed to several magazines such as The Criminologist.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was this short note, sent to Home Secretary Sir Matthew Ridley in the early part of 1901, which set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the Pierrepoint family name becoming one of the most famous in modern British criminology, and being connected with capital punishment for the next half century. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A. Parry on 8 May 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting tale of the Pierrepoint family, Henry, his brother Thomas, and son Albert, who all followed the same occupational sideline to boost the family income.

I was surprised at the apparent ease with which Henry secured a job as Assistant Executioner - he wrote a speculative letter to the Home Secretary, and within a month he was starting a week's training course to quite literally "learn the ropes"; he assisted at his first execution within nine months, and was chief executioner - fitting the noose and pulling the lever - in less than two years. After this, the family members were able to pass on inside information to each other on what the job involved and how it was done, so they had an advantage when it came to applying for vacancies - Henry taught Tom, who taught Albert, who in turn advised Robert Leslie Stewart (who conducted one of the last UK hangings in August 1964) who was the husband of one of the barmaids Albert employed in his pub.

Of necessity, the book becomes rather repetitive, usually with a description of the crime and of the condemned, the date and place of the execution, and any unusual event which occurred during the hanging and how much of a "drop" was given to each "client". Appendix 2 lists for each of the family's clients their name, age, date of execution, location, and identifies the chief and assistant executioners.

Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the book was several times disturbed by a lack of adequate proofreading. There are several references to a place called "Lunburg", which I presume was actually "Luneburg"; there's just plain carelessness
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Saunders on 23 July 2007
Format: Hardcover
Want to know about the family of hangmen that were the Pierrepoints? Well don't start here, as this book gives exhaustive detail on all the people they hung, and those people's deportment on the way to the gallows, but it tells you absolutely nothing about the Pierrepoints and how they came to occupy their position in society, and surely a biography should do that? Instead you have page after page of who they hung, when they hanged them and what they'd done to be hanged. Very dull book save your money get the autobiography instead.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Lawes on 20 Sept. 2006
Format: Hardcover
I approached this book expecting to learn some intersting new revelations about the lives of the Pierrepoint men but instead found it a very dry recounting of almost every person they had ever hung. After a while this dry style consisting of the date and victim plus a little information on the crime repeated over and over will get on your nerves. That said there are one or two new facts to be discovered and it makes a good place to start if you have no real knowledge of the Pierrepoint family. The best place to start really is Albert Pierrepoints own biography.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By East Coast Scribbler on 28 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
This is supposed to be a book about a family of executioners but is just an unimaginative and monotonous litany of executions by three hangmen who happen to be from the same family.

If, like me, you are hoping to learn what motivated these family members, what shaped their beliefs and how the family members ineracted with each other and their world then forget it. We learn next to nothing about them as people. Instead we get around 280 pages of short and mind-numbingly dull accounts of the last moments of various murderers, war criminals and traitors. It has no ethical standpoint either for or against its subject matter and there is little to suggest that the author has the imagination to explore such arguments.

There is very little evidence of real research beyond gathering together some easily obtained facts and quotes. Frustratingly, the final brief chapter hints that there is plenty of interesting material to uncover about the lives of the Pierrepoints but Fielding just feeds us a few titbits as an afterthought.

Finally it must be said that apart from the soporific presentation of the facts, the grammar is often very poor and words are misused. For example: "Albert would therefore carry out the double execution as he had done in the past, as the only principle (sic) hangman." This appears late in the book and perhaps the editor had fallen asleep by this time.

In summary, this is one of the poorest non-fiction books I have read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By benb on 19 July 2011
Format: Paperback
This is withut doubt the most tedious and appalingly written book a I have ever read. Steve Fielding has written a book that clearly took him about a week to research. He has spoken to no-one involved in any of the story of the Pierrepoint family, and the book reads like one long list of who they hanged and when. At no point does he ever question any of the convictions and there are huge holes in the research. He can't even be bothered to find out the ages of the Nai war criminals Albert hanged in Germany. Easy information to find, one would think, given a) the meticulousness of the Nazis in keeping accurate records and b) the weakth of information on that period. There is very little of interest here, and at times it feels like Fielding has simply summarised (badly) Albert's diary. Don't be misled by the blurb on the back either - at no point does it provide "insights" into the Pierrepoints' lives. It barely even touches on them. For the first time ever I feel moved to write to the writer himself and ask him how he thought he would possibly get away with this.
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