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The Real-Life Jakob Kuisl and the Life of an Executioner: Background information when reading The Beggar King

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The Beggar King

A Hangman's Daughter Tale

by Oliver Potzsch

The Beggar King
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    Jan 2013, 512 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Cindy Anderson

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Beyond the Book:
The Real-Life Jakob Kuisl and the Life of an Executioner

The village of Schongau in Bavaria Oliver Pötzsch spent his early years in Bavaria, listening to stories about his family from his grandmother. He says that when he was five or six, she told him that he was a direct descendant of a family named Kuisl, who were employed as executioners. He was too young then to even know what an executioner did, but it sparked a curiosity in him that never left (The Hangman's Daughter, postscript).

Using this history as a starting point, Pötzsch began creating a fictional world for Jakob Kuisl, and studying the history of Schongau as well as the role of the hangman. His aim is "to stick to the facts as much as possible. In that, he doesn't disappoint. His depiction of the Kuisls as well-read, and knowledgeable about healing come straight from the family records, which included physical descriptions and family traits shared by all of the Kuisls. These include a tendency towards introversion and...

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