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Edison and the Electric Chair: A Story of Light and Death

Edison and the Electric Chair: A Story of Light and Death

Thomas Edison stunned America in 1879 by unveiling a world-changing invention-the light bulb-and then launching the electrification of America's cities. A decade later, despite having been an avowed opponent of the death penalty, Edison threw his laboratory resources and reputation behind the creation of a very different sort of device-the electric chair. Deftly exploring this startling chapter in American history, Edison & the Electric Chair delivers both a vivid portrait of a nation on the cusp of modernity and a provocative new examination of Edison himself.

Chapter 1: Early Sparks

Chapter 2: The Inventor

Chapter 3: Light

Chapter 4: Electricity and Life

Chapter 5: "Down to the Last Penny"

Chapter 6: Wiring New York

Chapter 7: The Hanging Ritual

Chapter 8: The Death Penalty Commission

Chapter 9: George Westinghouse and the Rise of Alternating Current

Chapter 10: The Electrical Execution Law

Chapter 11: "A Desperate Fight"

Chapter 12: "Criminal Economy"

Chapter 13: Condemned

Chapter 14: Showdown

Chapter 15: The Unmasking of Harold Brown

Chapter 16: Pride and Reputation

Chapter 17: The Electric Wire Panic

Chapter 18: Designing the Electric Chair

Chapter 19: The Conversion of William Kemmler

Chapter 20: The First Experiment

Chapter 21: After Kemmler

Chapter 22: The End of the Battle of the Currents

Chapter 23: The Age of the Electric Chair

EPILOGUE: The New Spectacle of Death


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