Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
on 1 December 2009
This is a remarkably interesting little book which gives an insight into the life of one of England's most notorious executioners - `William Calcraft'.
The book loosely follows Calcraft's entry into the executioner's service until his eventual forced retirement when he was in his seventies! The book focuses heavily on the accounts of the crimes, trials and subsequent hangings. I would have preferred a little more information on the man himself; however, the subject material is deeply captivating in a morbid sense.
Calcraft favoured the `short drop' method, which was replaced by his eventual successors by the more humane `long drop' based on calculated weights and heights. I don't think that Calcraft was a cruel and callous man, rather he saw himself as a tool of the state, exacting justice as it was served on behalf of the Crown.
This is a truly fascinating read and should be recommended to all who enjoy a healthy dose of morbid social and criminal history!