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The Executioner's Song is a 1980 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Norman Mailer that depicts the events surrounding the execution of Gary Gilmore by the state of Utahmarker for murder. The title of the book may be a play on "The Lord High Executioner's Song" from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.

Based almost entirely on interviews with the family and friends of both Gilmore and his victims, the book is exhaustive in its approach. Divided into two sections, the book focuses on the events leading up to the murders and the trial and execution of Gilmore, including full documentation of Gilmore's court appearances and his decision to demand his execution rather than to continue the appeals process.

The first section of the book deals with Gilmore's early life and his numerous detentions in juvenile crime facilities and, later, prison. It details his release some months prior to his first murder and the relationships he establishes during that time.

The second section focuses more extensively on Gilmore's trial, including his refusal to appeal his death sentence, his dealings with Lawrence Schiller and his attorney's refusal to accept his refusal and their continued fight on his behalf. Gilmore was executed by firing squad on January 17, 1977, after appeals filed by his lawyers (in defiance of Gilmore's wishes) were rejected. The execution had been stayed on three previous occasions.

Notable not only for its portrayal of Gilmore and the anguish surrounding the murders he committed, the book also took a central position in the national debate over the revival of capital punishment by the Supreme Courtmarker as Gilmore was the first person in the United States executed since the re-instatement of the death penalty in 1976.

The Executioner's Song was later turned into a TV movie starring Tommy Lee Jones, a role for which he won an Emmy, directed by Lawrence Schiller, who is a main character in the second section of the book. Schiller went to great lengths to convince Gilmore to give him the exclusive media rights to tell his life story.


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