A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert

A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley

by Neal Thompson


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780770436223
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 06/03/2014
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 829,300
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.89(d)

About the Author

NEAL THOMPSON is the critically acclaimed author of Light This Candle, Driving with the Devil, and Hurricane Season and has contributed to such publications as Outside, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two sons.  You can find him at www.nealthompson.com.

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chapter 1

Excerpted from "A Curious Man"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Neal Thompson.
Excerpted by permission of Crown/Archetype.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A Curious Man is the rollicking, terrific story of one of America’s greatest men…Ripley brought back to an awed nation the richness of an endlessly exotic world, and Neal Thompson tells the story with a perfectly-pitched sense of what makes such a man, and a nation, tick."
—Peter Heller, New York Times bestselling author of The Dog Stars
The breathtaking life of a quintessential American: a Frankenstein monster stitched together with equal parts genius, bravado, insecurity, and propaganda.  A master of oddities, Ripley himself was the purest form of his own collection and Neal Thompson is his wondrous exhibitor.”
—Brad Meltzer, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Inner Circle
"Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that the history of a time can be resolved in the biography of a few stout and earnest people.  Robert Ripley was certainly one of those and, in this fascinating account, Neal Thompson rescues for us a colorful slice of history."
 –Colum McCann, bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin
"Anyone who wants to understand America needs to read this book…Neal Thompson gives us a vivid portrait of this complex, restless man in all his maniacally conflicted glory."
—Ben Fountain, Winner of the Pen/Hemingway Award and author of the National Book Award Finalist Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
"Intelligent and gripping…Neal Thompson expertly captures the surprisingly complex character of Robert Ripley, and a life nearly too fantastic to be believed." 
—Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose
“Neal Thompson has written the book many writers dream of — the Great American rags-to-riches story—and done it in an intoxicating way. The story of the man who created ‘Ripley's Believe It Or Notis a rip-roaring tale of head-shaking amazement.”
— Marc J. Seifer, author of Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla
“In a way that I’m not sure I was expecting, the book builds real sadness into the considerable momentum of its narrative. Neal Thompson constructs an elegant argument: the world Ripley created is the world in which we now live.”
—David Shields, New York Times bestselling author of The Thing About Life Is that One Day You’ll Be Dead
"A Curious Man is a work of real beauty and fun and emotion — and intense readability. It is a single-session book, one of those that takes your clock and renders it mute until the book has had its say. Thompson is the genuine article: smart and witty, empathetic and a pleasure to read."
—Darin Strauss, bestselling author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng
“For the first time anywhere, Neal Thompson brings us Ripley in all his gaudy glory, crafting a hardboiled Horatio Alger story for a media-obsessed age."
-Tom Reiss, New York Times bestselling author of The Black Count and The Orientalist
“Like Robert Ripley, Neal Thompson has a nose for the strange and wonderful.  A Curious Man is a rich, compelling read for fans of the exotic and uncanny.”
—Stewart O'Nan, bestselling author of The Odds
"A biography of a man who was as unusual as the items he collected…An outstanding work…I couldn't pull myself away."
—Frank Brady, bestselling author of Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall – from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness
“Ripley's life turns out to have been as weird as his facts. A fun but also compelling read that lingers in an unexpected way.”
—John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
"Believe it! Neal Thompson has written the definitive biography of the larger-than-life Robert L. Ripley, the father of our minutiae-mad modern society."
—Ken Jennings, all-time Jeopardy! champ and bestselling author of Maphead and Because I Said So

Customer Reviews

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A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not" Ripley 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Heather_Wietz More than 1 year ago
A Curious Man is a fabulous book. It tells the story of Robert Ripley's life - from cartoonist to ambassador of oddities. His life is fascinating and the author does a fine job brining it to life. A five star book.
mcamp More than 1 year ago
The title and cover attracted my attention to this book. I learned quite a lot. I have been to the Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum in Gatlinburg on several occasions; however, I knew very little about the man himself. He was a scoundrel in some ways, but had redeeming qualities, too, as is often the case when reading in depth about a well-known person. I had few preconceived notions going into it. It is interesting to see how what was going on in the world shaped him and how he lived and also how the way he lived shaped what was going on during this time in history. I definitely recommend this book. It is both enjoyable and educational. There are elements that I dislike, things that make me sad, as well as aspects that I find inspiring. - I rented the digital book for free from my local library; however, for those who have smartphones, there is a free app that allows you to scan a code in certain portions of the paper copy. It links to additional information, such as videos. Believe it or not, but if Ripley had not quit his job as a paperboy, we might very well not know anything of him today. Read the book to find out the specifics. I do not wish to damage the journey of discovery, so I shall leave it at that. Interesting and enjoyable, educational and inspiring...read it and decide for yourself.
David_Bremmerton More than 1 year ago
I like oddball stories and this book is full of them. A first rate biography.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating biography of an intriguing character. Anyone who has enjoyed the books or visited one of the many amazing museums should check this out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author did a good writing this book. I doubt he left any stone unturned. From a historical point, Ripley was an entertainer and businessman who provided affordable entertainment during a time of financial devastation for most families. He was a self-made man and a hard worker, who had opportunities to see the world that many only dream of. Ripley's morals were low. His wealth provided a group of women he called his "harem." Needless to say, his relationships with women were not long lived. My disappointment with this book is not with the author, but with Mr. Ripley's personal life. I had hoped that his life provided a sense of decency. I do not recommend this book because of some of the subject matter.
PJtheEMT4 More than 1 year ago
A Curious Man is a biographical novelization of Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley, an eccentric cartoonist- journalist behind the television show that was known for celebrating the world's strangest oddities and circus like attractions. He was known for offering generations of Americans an affordable means of entertainment through his travels and exhibitions, beginning with the era of the Great Depression. He "celebrated weirdness, he made it mainstream". (page 5) History enthusiasts, and Ripley fans as well as tourists will enjoy this book with the behind the scenes life of Mr. Ripley. The author personifies the complex character of Ripley who was ahead of his time. While everyone has at least heard of Ripley, few have ever had the opportunity to read extensively about his life. The author writes in chronological fashion, starting with Ripley's birth, career and his abrupt death at the age of 59. The writing is very detailed and the newspaperesque description is straightforward, ironically in contrast with the original and unusual circumstances. Expository writing mixed with lively dramatization will keep the reader engaged. The old fashioned, textured tabloid styled cover looks authentic and is certain to draw in the reader. This eye catching book also contained assorted interesting facts mixed in with the text. There is a glossy black and photo insert chronicling Ripley's travels. This unique book would stand out in any bookstore or gift shop. As a blogger I Received this book published by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, for the purpose of writing this review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I probably would not have read this book had it not been a choice of my book club. i found it a little tiresome. Ripley's life story was interesting, and I learned things about the 1920's and 1930's, but the author could have done it with fewer words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good biography, in the order that things happen. Descriptions of current living and working conditions are clear. Some events could fill a book by themselves but the author stays the course of telling the whole tale without digression.
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I've read Neal Thompson's other 3 books and they're all excellent. From the preview I've read of this book in Vanity Fair, it's going to be Neal's best
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting work about a very interesting man.