Monday, April 26, 2021

Famous Last Words: Confessions, Humour and Bravery of the Departing


Famous Last Words is a well written series of short biographies (and the end of the lives of the subjects) written and presented by Chris Wood. Due out 30th June 2021 from Pen & Sword, it's 216 pages and will be available in paperback format. 

This is a fascinating account of the deaths of 23 historical figures. They range from the very well known (Lady Jane Grey, William Burke) to the previously unfamiliar (to me). The accounts are written simply and engagingly in plain language. Despite the often gruesome nature of the murders, poisonings, and other crimes which led directly to the executions, the descriptions are neither too graphic nor disturbing (most of them happened many many years ago and have lost the immediacy of horror). They're not all executions, several are related stories from the deaths of non-criminals (Liam Whelan, Sir Henry Irving).

The author has included a number of illustrations from extant historical records, drawings, and some photographs. There are no annotations or bibliography included in the advance copy I received for review which are listed in the table of contents and will be included in the final release version. Ditto the index which will be available in the final release copy. 

This would be a good selection for library acquisition, or for history fans. It would also be a good choice for true crime fans. 

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.  

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