Chapter

Introduction

Scott Christianson

in The Last Gasp

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780520255623
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945616 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520255623.003.0001
Introduction

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This book traces the dreadful history of the gas chamber, providing both a step-by-step account of its operations and an analysis of the factors that contributed to its rise and fall. It recounts some of the scientific, political, and legal background leading up to the adoption of lethal gas, describes the executions, and outlines the struggle to abolish the use of gas-chamber executions. Although the Holocaust figures prominently in this history, most of this book focuses on its reign in the United States. The lethal chamber, later called the execution gas chamber or homicidal gas chamber, was originally envisioned before Adolf Hitler was born. The earliest gas chamber for execution purposes was constructed in the Nevada State Penitentiary at Carson City and first employed on February 8, 1924. The specter of the gas chamber evoked revulsion throughout the world and eventually contributed to the ongoing decline in America's resort to the death penalty. Nazi Germany appropriated the evolving American method of gas-chamber executions and embellished upon it with unfettered ferocity.

Keywords: United States; gas chamber; lethal gas; executions; Holocaust; Nazi Germany; Adolf Hitler; death penalty; Nevada State Penitentiary

Chapter.  7576 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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