Painfotainment by Dan Carlin

(Hardcore History #61)

An exploration of one of mankind's dark sides – pain used as spectacle, and pain as punishment. Executions. Gladiator battles. The guillotine. Carlin surveys the scene from the perspective of the executioner, the audience, and the person being executed. He uses lots of primary sources, and delivers it with his trademark dramatic style. I like his exploration of the decline of executions and the reasons behind it too.

Some of commented that he didn't spend enough time on lynching, but I think that's a whole other animal compared to state sanctioned execution by hanging, or gladiator battles for entertainment. I think it was a good thing he steered clear of lynching because that deserves its own episode to look at the racial motivations that are behind lynching.

Although I did like this episode, it is hampered by its far reaching topic and Roman/British-centric view. Most of the English sources are about these time periods. Also, it's such a broad topic that this episode could've easily been double or triple the length it was and could still not feel like comprehensive look at executions. Carlin's more focused episodes on specific battles or time periods don't have these problems.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #39 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

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