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The Last Face You'll Ever See: The Private Life of the American Death Penaltyby Ivan Solotaroff
Synopses & Reviews
In fascinating detail, Ivan Solotaroff introduces us to men who carry out executions. Although the emphasis is on the personal lives of these men and of those they have to put to death, The Last Face You'll Ever See also addresses some of the deeper issues of the death penalty and connects the veiled, elusive figure of the executioner to the vast majority of Americans who have claimed to support executions since 1977. Why do we do it? Or, more exactly, why do we want to? The Last Face You'll Ever See is not about the polarizing issues of the death penalty — it is a firsthand report about the culture of executions: the executioners, the death-row inmates, and everyone involved in the act. An engrossing, unsettling, and provocative book, this work will forever affect anyone who reads it.
"His story is not for the fainthearted. Solotaroff does not argue directly against the death penalty but simply shows what it entails in its most bareknuckled form. The executioners' bravado and the mutilated bodies of the executed go hand in hand." Library Journal
"Depicting ironically pleasant last meals with retarded convicts, the creepy antics of the death-house guards, and threats of possible innocents sent to their doom, Solotaroff specifically seeks not to illuminate the ongoing moral dialogue, but rather to examine the living complexities of executioners and the condemned, a relationship he oddly reveres as a kind of marriage although the metaphor is eventually abandoned in light of a cruel and imperfect bureaucracy. Readers visit death rows, hang out with executioners and meet the condemned, but the people along the way are alienated and alienating, and readers must remind themselves they are human beings." Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Ivan Solotaroff is a journalist who has been published in Esquire, the Village Voice, and Philadelphia Magazine, among other leading magazines. He is the author of a collection of essays, No Success Like Failure. He lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
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