Brothers

Brothers

On His Brothers and Brothers in History

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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. 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. Henry David Thoreau’s life was shadowed by the early death of his older brother, John, who haunted and inspired his writing.

Colt parallels his quest to understand how his own brothers shaped his life with an examination of the complex relationships between famous brothers in history. Illuminating and affecting, Colt’s magnificent book is a history told through the lens of fraternal rivalry—and love.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 480 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416547785 | 
  • May 2014
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Read an Excerpt

Brothers Chapter One The Colt Boys
If the handful of black-and-white snapshots that remain from my childhood is any indication, it’s a wonder I didn’t end up with a permanent crick in my neck from literally and figuratively looking up to my older brother. Harry was born twenty months before me, and I worshiped him with an intensity that must have been both flattering and bewildering to the worshipee. I didn’t want to be like Harry; I wanted to be Harry. I cocked my coonskin cap exactly the way he did... see more
CHAPTER TWO

GOOD BROTHER, BAD BROTHER: EDWIN AND JOHN WILKES BOOTH

In the fall of 1864, with the Civil War well into its fourth year, the attention of most Americans was on Atlanta, where General Sherman, having captured the city, was resting his troops before their march to the sea. The attention of the New York theatrical community, however, was on the Winter Garden, where rehearsals were taking place for a special benefit performance whose proceeds would go toward erecting a statue of Shakespeare in Central Park, the vast public greensward that had opened seven years earlier. The benefit would mark the first time that the celebrated... see more

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