Punishment and Pain cover


A Painful History of Crime: Punishment and Pain

How about a little light reading for family story night? A little punishment and pain for storytime?

The content of this children’s book is actually fascinating. It’s just so gory! Chopped off heads, stretching someone on a rack, an actual photo of a dead guy in an electric chair…this is the stuff of nightmares for many children. It might work in a teen collection, but it seems a bit violent for a general youth collection.



Punishment and Pain back cover

torture wheel

Screams in the Tower of London


electric chair


  1. There are kids who would love this book and I don’t see the kids who’d view it as nightmare fuel picking it up by accident.

  2. Does anyone remember a series which included titles such ‘The Rotten Romans’?

    This book would fit in with that sort of thing. It does have some good information that could lead to deeper research.

    Unless it hasn’t circulated in a while I wouldn’t toss it.

    1. Horrible Histories? Or something on those lines.

      Never saw them, but I’ve seen references to them.

    2. Horrible Histories. It was also a kid’s tv show in the UK. I’m rather fond of the songs. Sometimes I go on YouTube to watch them.

  3. It’s funny how there are kids who aren’t bothered by this at all, while I have two nieces who, as little girls, would probably have burst into tears over seeing Wile E. Coyote falling from a cliff. 🙂

    1. Once I wept over a scary scenario in a Mighty Mouse cartoon. Other than that, I spent many a Saturday morning with sugar cereal, Looney Tunes, Little Rascals and Larry, Curley and Moe. Meep! Meep!

  4. What a dreadful book. I mean, the topic is of course worthy of study as part of history, but it’s very flippant regarding human life, presenting it as a bit of a laughingstock. Real people suffered terribly and it’s horrible to write about it as if it’s humorous. Throw it out!

    1. I agree. Some aspects of history are laughable to modern readers but this crosses the line into poor taste.

  5. I would be bothered by it at 58. I skipped over the pics of the sample pages. I am a wimp. As a child, I had long-lasting nightmares over
    1) A Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not book from Scholastic
    2) An episode of I Spy
    3) An episode of Star Trek
    4) The movies “When Worlds Collide” and “War of the Worlds”
    5) Those little skulls on the spines of the mysteries my mom checked out of the library.

  6. A couple of comments: First, I don’t see where Christina finds anything humorous in the tone. Next: as a former children’s librarian, I would have loved to have had this book in my library. Most children are fascinated by this kind of information, not scared by it. (Didn’t Bruno Bettelheim say that kids need some horror in their lives — like the sort in fairy tales — to be able to deal with the real world?)

  7. Horrible Histories is a series of history books from the UK (there is also a the series). Very popular and fun. My students love them. This book is quite gruesome. I wonder what the reason was for writing it.

  8. I hate to say it but I probably would have loved this. I loved horror movies from a young age and my mom was a Stephen King fanatic. I was always checking out weird books like this.

  9. Heh, I recently weeded this for condition – it had been read to death. We still have another title from the series, though: ‘A Painful History of Childhood’!

    Kids are gorehounds, and the history of Crime and Punishment is actually part of the syllabus (for some exam boards) at GCSE.

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