The Executioner's Song

The Executioner's Song 1

Staatsarchive Nürnberg

A Nuremberg court notary drew this image of Frantz Schmidt at work.

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Staatsarchive Nürnberg

A Nuremberg court notary drew this image of Frantz Schmidt at work.

One of the pleasures of reading history is to be transported somewhere, even if we aren't sure we want to go.

A public execution, for example.

The scene that opens Joel F. Harrington's new book is of an impatient crowd in 1617 Nuremberg that waited hours to observe the final moments of a counterfeiter. As people jostle for a good view, they are rendered so vividly by the historian that one can almost smell the concessions—sausages, roast chestnuts, salted