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There's not really any way to review Last Words of the Executed—it's a book collecting the last words of the men and women who have been put to death in America. The editorial content is slender: Studs Terkel provided a foreword, and there's a little bit of contextual information after each quote. (Did you know that in the 1600s, "It was believed that a corpse would bleed when touched by its murderer," for example?) But the quotes themselves are fascinating.

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A murderer in 1917 was put to death after saying "They can't kill a smile!" Some people beg for their lives. Some announce that they are Jesus Christ. Some say they're sorry. Many claim their innocence. Put all together like this—the quotes are arranged in chapters by type of execution, from hanging to lethal injection—you want to look for a pattern. There's not quite a pattern to be found.

It's a worthwhile read, even if there's not much to say about it. No matter how you feel about the death penalty, you'll be hypnotized by this book. Last Words of the Executed is in bookstores now, and we'll be bringing an free advance reader's copy to Slog Happy this Thursday.