Brothers: On His Brothers and Brothers in History

Brothers: On His Brothers and Brothers in History

by George Howe Colt
     
 

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ISBN-10: 1416547770

ISBN-13: 2901416547777

Pub. Date: 11/27/2012

Publisher: Scribner

From the bestselling National Book Award finalist, a masterful blend of history and memoir featuring the author’s four brothers and iconic brothers in history—the Thoreaus, the Van Goghs, the Kelloggs, the Marx brothers, and the Booths.

George Howe Colt's The Big House is, as the New Yorker said, “full of surprises and contains

Overview

From the bestselling National Book Award finalist, a masterful blend of history and memoir featuring the author’s four brothers and iconic brothers in history—the Thoreaus, the Van Goghs, the Kelloggs, the Marx brothers, and the Booths.

George Howe Colt's The Big House is, as the New Yorker said, “full of surprises and contains more than seems possible: a family memoir, a brief history of the Cape, an investigation of nostalgia, a study of class, and a meditation on the privileges and burdens of the past.” Colt’s new book, Brothers, is an equally idiosyncratic and masterful blend of memoir and history featuring both the author’s three brothers and iconic brothers in history—the Booths, the Van Goghs, the Kelloggs, the Marx Brothers, and the Thoreaus.

Colt believes he would be a different man had he not grown up in a family of four brothers. He movingly recounts the adoration, envy, affection, resentment, and compassion in their shifting relationships from childhood through middle age, also rendering a volatile decade in American life: the 1960s. Some of the Colt men now have children; all have found their own paths; all now consider their brothers to be their closest friends.

In alternate chapters, Colt parallels his quest to understand how his own brothers shaped his life with an examination of the rich and complex relationships between iconic brothers in history. He explores how Edwin Booth grew up to become the greatest actor on the nineteenth-century American stage while his younger brother John grew up to assassinate a president. How Will Kellogg worked for his overbearing older brother John Harvey as a subservient yes-man for two decades until he finally broke free and launched the cereal empire that outlasted all his brother’s enterprises. How Vincent van Gogh would never have survived without the financial and emotional support of his younger brother, Theo, in a claustrophobic relationship that both defined and confined them. How Henry David Thoreau’s life was shadowed by the early death of his older brother, John, who haunted and inspired his writing. And how the Marx Brothers collaborated on the screen but competed offstage for women, money, and fame.

Illuminating and affecting, this book will be revelatory for any parent of sons, any sibling, anyone curious about how a man’s life can be molded by his brothers. Colt’s magnificent book is a testament to the abiding power of fraternal love.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2901416547777
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
11/27/2012
Pages:
465

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Colt Boys 1

Chapter 2 Good Brother, Bad Brother: Edwin and John Wilkes Booth 24

Chapter 3 The Fallout Shelter 83

Chapter 4 Brother Against Brother: John and Will Kellogg 107

Chapter 5 Baseball 167

Chapter 6 Brother's Keeper: Vincent and Theo van Gogh 191

Chapter 7 Under the Influence 257

Chapter 8 Brothers, Inc.: Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo Marx 275

Chapter 9 Aerogrammes 327

Chapter 10 The Lost Brother: John and Henry David Thoreau 352

Chapter 11 The Colt Men 394

Acknowledgments 421

Selected Bibliography 425

Index 447

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