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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
What a Way to Go

What a Way to Go

The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to Death

Geoffrey Abbott

St. Martin's Griffin


A gruesomely, hilarious and fascinating pop-history account of methods of execution from around the world and through the ages

In this wickedly humorous book, Geoffrey Abbott describes the effectiveness of instruments of torture and reveals the macabre origins of familiar phrases such as 'gone west' or 'drawn a blank'. Covering everything from the preparation of the victim to the disposal of the body 'What a Way to Go' is everything you ever wanted to know about the ultimate penalty---and a lot you never thought to ask.

It includes such hair-raising categories as:
- Sewn in an Anima's Belly: A living person is sewn into the belly of an animal and left to die&
- The Spanish Donkey: This method of torture consisted of seating a victim on top of a wall that resembled an inverted V with weights attached to the ankles, the weights slowly increased until the victim's body split in two
- Iron Chair: The victim is tied to an iron armchair and pushed nearer and nearer to a blazing fire

What a Way to Go is a a unique and fascinating look at the grim and gritty history of sanctioned death

Chapter One


The very prospect of a not-so-sharp wedge of iron descending forcibly on the back of one's neck, perhaps more than once, evokes shudders of horror. Yet this method of execution, rather than that of hanging, was...

Praise for What a Way to Go

“We are very sick puppies . . . The fun, though, is in the oddities.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Fascinating vignettes of death.” —The Wall Street Journal

Reviews from Goodreads

Geoffrey Abbott

Geoffrey Abbott served for many years as a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London. Author of nineteen books and contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica, he has made numerous television appearances.

St. Martin's Griffin

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