Guillotine

Guillotine : The Timbers of Justice

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The guillotine is undoubtedly the most potent image of revolutionary France, the tool whereby a whole society was 'redesigned'. Yet, what came to be seen as an instrument of terror was, paradoxically, introduced as the result of the humanitarian feelings of men intent on revising an ancient and barbaric penal code. Robert Frederick Opie takes us on a fascinating and sometimes terrifying journey through the narrow streets of eighteenth-century Paris and beyond. Initially scorned by the revolutionary mob for being insufficiently cruel, the swift and efficient guillotine soon became the darling of the crowd, despatching as many as sixty people a day beneath its blade. But the Razor of the Nation was to remain the chosen instrument of capital punishment until the 1970s, only finally being banned in 1981. "Guillotine: The Timbers of Justice" traces the development of the guillotine over nearly two centuries, recounting the stories of famous executions, the lives of the executioners and the scientific research into whether the head retained consciousness after it was separated from the body that continued into the 1950s. This is a gruesomely interesting tale, rich in detail and teeming with extraordinary personalities. It is a very human history, recounting some of the most diabolical uses of human inventiveness, and also some of the most touching pleas for mercy.

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  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 24mm | 181.44g
  • 01 Nov 2006
  • The History Press Ltd
  • Sutton Publishing Ltd
  • Stroud
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 075094403X
  • 9780750944038
  • 593,976

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Author Information

Robert Frederick Opie is a senior fire service officer, with experience in Scotland, where he was responsible for emergency planning and the compilation of war plans. He has a longstanding personal interest in history, particularly medieval military history and the history of crime and punishment. This is his first book.

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