Executioner's current: Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the invention of the electric chair

Book Cover
Average Rating
Alfred A. Knopf,
Pub. Date:
1st ed.
The amazing story of how the electric chair developed not out of the desire for a method of execution more humane than hanging but of an effort by one nineteenth century electric company to discredit the other. In 1882, Thomas Edison launched "the age of electricity" by lighting up a portion of Manhattan with his direct current (DC) system. Six years later George Westinghouse lit up Buffalo with his less expensive alternating current (AC). They quickly became locked in a battle for market share. Richard Moran shows that Edison, in order to maintain commercial dominance, set out to blacken the image of Westinghouse's AC by persuading the State of New York to electrocute condemned criminals with AC current. Westinghouse, determined to keep AC from becoming known as the "executioner's current," fought to stop the first electrocution, claiming that use of the electric chair constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The legal battle that ensued ended when the Supreme Court refused to rule. The electrocution of William Kemler went forward in New York's Auburn Pen- itentiary in August 1890--and was horribly botched. Moran makes clear how this industry tug-of-war raised many profound and disturbing questions, not only about electrocution but about the technological nature of the search for a humane method of execution. And the fundamental question, he says, remains with us today: Can execution ever be considered humane? A superbly told tale of industrial and political skullduggery that brings to light a little-known chapter of modern American history.
Also in This Series
More Like This
More Copies In Prospector
Loading Prospector Copies...
More Details
Reviews from GoodReads
Loading GoodReads Reviews.
Staff View

Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 6a3786b5-a717-088f-81d8-269b010261b9
Grouping Title executioner s current thomas edison george westinghouse and the invention of the electric chair
Grouping Author moran richard
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2018-10-10 01:06:21AM
Last Indexed 2019-03-23 06:25:17AM

Solr Details

accelerated_reader_point_value 0
accelerated_reader_reading_level 0
author Moran, Richard.
author_display Moran, Richard
available_at_basalt Basalt
detailed_location_basalt Basalt Non Fiction
format_basalt Book
format_category_basalt Books
id 6a3786b5-a717-088f-81d8-269b010261b9
isbn 9780375410598
item_details ils:.b21192261|.i34338408|Basalt Non Fiction|364.66 MOR|||1|false|false|||||On Shelf||banf||
itype_basalt Non-fiction
last_indexed 2019-03-23T12:25:17.115Z
lexile_score -1
literary_form Non Fiction
literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_basalt 364.66 MOR
owning_library_basalt Basalt Regional Library
owning_location_basalt Basalt
primary_isbn 9780375410598
publishDate 2002
record_details ils:.b21192261|Book|Books|1st ed.|English|Alfred A. Knopf,|[2002]|xxii, 271 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
recordtype grouped_work
Bib IdItem IdGrouped StatusStatusLocally OwnedAvailableHoldableBookableIn Library Use OnlyLibrary OwnedHoldable PTypesBookable PTypesLocal Url
ils:.b21192261 .i34338408 On Shelf On Shelf false true true false false true 116, 117, 118, 119, 120
subject_facet Edison, Thomas A. -- (Thomas Alva), -- 1847-1931, Electrocution -- United States -- History, Westinghouse, George, -- 1846-1914
title_display Executioner's current : Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the invention of the electric chair
title_full Executioner's current : Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the invention of the electric chair / Richard Moran
title_short Executioner's current :
title_sub Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the invention of the electric chair
topic_facet Edison, Thomas A, Electrocution, History, Westinghouse, George