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Monday, November 26, 2012

Brothers: George Howe Colt On His Brothers and Brothers In History

I was drawn into George Howe Colt's Brothers by the historical aspect--how would he compare his fraternal relationships with such famous as the Marx brothers and the Booths?

What is the historical relationship of brothers? That is the large question at hand in this book exploring the facets of fraternal relationships. Colt uses his experience with his three brothers as a basis for exploring ways that famous brothers in history have related to one another. The dark horse/white knight relationship of the Booth brothers, the extreme sibling rivalry of the Kellogg brothers, the dependent relationship of the Van Gogh brothers, the collaboration of the Marx brothers, and the undying love of the Thoreau brothers make up the story of this book.

This book is a bit on the hefty side--and no detail is spared in the history of brothers. Colt consults psychologists and historians to paint as close to an accurate picture of these famous fraternal relationships as possible. The different relationships across history were fascinating, and it was particularly interesting reading about the Booth brothers after reading James L. Swanson's two books about the assassination of Lincoln and the 12-day hunt for John Wilkes Booth following. (This was before the Sassy Peach book blog--can you imagine a time where I read books and didn't blog about them??? Impossible, say you!)

The most interesting parts of this book were not the famous brothers--it was Colt's telling of his own familial relationships that was the most fascinating portion of this book. Or portions, you might say, since every other chapter introduces the next with a tale from the Colt household to set up the next group of famous brothers. I appreciated the connection to the larger questions of relationship types, but I was the most moved when he was speaking of his adult relationships with his three brothers. He was so open about the good and the bad without sparing us what we know, as readers, exists in families. It was with so great an ease that he opened up his family to me, the reader.

The bond of brothers is something I will never understand, being a female and having both a sister and a brother. I love that this book gave me insight into a relationship that is beyond that of my own with such detail and with such obvious care.

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