Old Sparky (Hardcover)
The Electric Chair and the History of the Death Penalty
Carrel Books, 9781631440267, 280pp.
Publication Date: June 9, 2015
In early 2013, Robert Gleason became the latest victim of the electric chair, a peculiarly American execution method. Shouting Pog mo thin ("Kiss my ass" in Gaelic) he grinned electricity shot through his system. When the current was switched off his body slumped against the leather restraints, and Gleeson, who had strangled two fellow inmates to ensure his execution was not postponed, was dead. The execution had gone flawlessly--not a guaranteed result with the electric chair, which has gone horrifically wrong on many occasions. Old Sparky covers the history of capital punishment in America and the "current wars" between Edison and Westinghouse which led to the development of the electric chair. It examines how the electric chair became the most popular method of execution in America, before being superseded by lethal injection. Famous executions are explored, alongside quirky last meals and poignant last words. The death penalty remains a hot topic of debate in America, and Old Sparky does not shy away from that controversy. Executions have gone spectacularly wrong, with convicts being set alight, and needing up to five jolts of electricity before dying. There have been terrible miscarriages of justice, and the death penalty has not been applied even-handedly. Historically, African-Americans, the mentally challenged, and poor defendants have been likely to get the chair, an anomaly which led the Supreme Court to briefly suspend the death penalty. Since the resumption of capital punishment in 1976 Texas alone has executed more than 500 prisoners, and death row is full. Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history--books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.
About the Author
Anthony Galvin is a highly experienced crime journalist. His account of the Limerick (Ireland) drug war, Family Feud: Gangland Limerick Exposed, was Ireland's top selling non-fiction book of 2004, and the most shoplifted book in Irish publishing history. He is also the author The Great Polar Fraud as well as a dozen other books on a variety of subjects, many in the true crime genre. He spent a decade working as a crime reporter for a daily newspaper and now writes full-time. He lives in southern Ireland.