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Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives

November 8, 2002

Front-Page News

Clifford Keeney

Richard Moran

Jolt of History Professor of Sociology Richard Moran's new study of the development of the electric chair is winning rave reviews. Among the newspapers touting The Executioner's Current: Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the Invention of the Electric Chair in recent weeks are the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Sun-Times. Writing on October 25 in the LA Times, reviewer Anthony Day noted, "About 4,300 convicted criminals were killed by electrocution in the United States in the twentieth century, according to Moran. He thinks it likely no more will be, now that lethal injection is more generally accepted." Further, as Day observes, Moran feels that no means of execution can ever be deemed humane and that the move from the electric chair to lethal injection is a futile effort by society to put execution "further and further away from our sight as we console ourselves that it is somehow not painful, not violent, when really it always is." Writing in the Sun-Times, Garry Lindenberg also praises Moran's book, ending his review with this advice to prospective readers: "Executioner's Current is a macabre jolt of history. Sit in a comfortable chair when reading it." Interestingly, only Nebraska still retains the chair as its method of execution. That state will consider moving to lethal injection this month.

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