Brothers On His Brothers and Brothers in History 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

  • Title: Brothers: On His Brothers and Brothers in History
  • Author: George Howe Colt
  • ISBN: 9781416547778
  • Page: 452
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 than seems possible a family memoir, a bFrom 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 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.

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    One thought on “Brothers: On His Brothers and Brothers in History”

    1. I originally liked the premise of this book, a study of brotherhood, since I have 2 sons. Ultimately, I disliked the book for two reasons, although I found bits and pieces interesting. I felt that the chapters dedicated to famous brothers were too long and jumped around too much (often citing dozens of other brothers as long tangential side notes). I ended up skipping the last several chapters of this type because I just could not handle them. I liked the early chapters depicting the author and [...]

    2. I was very tempted to give up on this book in the early chapters because it wasn't consistently interesting. The author throws in every anecdote about every famous brother he could find, which makes for a slog. He also throws in so many theories about brotherhood (without footnotes, although there is bibliographic information in an appendix) that they contradict each other. For example, you might first read that the youngest of the family is spoiled and babied, and a few pages later read that th [...]

    3. George Howe Colt is the second of four brothers, Harry, George, Ned, and Mark. Here he uses accounts of their lives together, with alternating chapters featuring famous brother combinations, to study the dynamics of brotherly relationships. As a child, George adored Harry and wanted to be just like him. Mark is several years younger than the other three, and really only figured as “the baby brother” in the others’ childhoods. They quarreled a lot, and at times were not particularly close t [...]

    4. George Howe Colt is a talented writer, and he successfully weaves multiple stories about famous brothers together with a memoir of growing up with three brothers of his own to create what I think of as a great source of cocktail party trivia about brothers. There are lots of fun facts about the Booth Brothers, the Van Gogh brothers, the Marx brothers and more that you can drop into casual conversation. The book is well-researched but not particularly insightful. I had the impression that the aut [...]

    5. BROTHERS by George Howe Colt is an unusual book in that it jumps back and forth between the doings of the four Colt brothers and other celebrity type brothers. Although they're extremely likable, perhaps the Colt segments are too long.Some of what Colt discovers about brothers in general is old hat. The oldest brother tends to bond with his parents, tends to be more successful, seems more like a little adult. The youngest is more creative and has a tendency to take more chances. The poor guy or [...]

    6. A fascinating and well-researched portrait of some remarkable brothers: Edwin & John Wilkes Booth, John & Will Kellogg, Vincent & Theo Van Gogh, John & Henry Thoreau and the wild and crazy five Marx Brothers (Groucho, Zeppo, Chico, Harpo and Gummo.) Colt throws in small bits about other others such as the hoarding Collyer brothers, the Everly Brothers, and the James Brothers (Henry and William and Jesse James and his brother whose name I forgot!) One doesn't have to have had brot [...]

    7. This was a rare non-fiction book that held my interest throughout the book, with a couple caveats. I enjoyed reading about family dynamics and how male siblings impact the development of each other.Here are the caveats: Every other chapter is about the author's own family. The first such chapter was sweet & sentimental. However, as his family ages in later chapters, dysfunction and NY liberal politics invade. I'd highly recommend skipping all the subsequent chapters on the author's family. I [...]

    8. Interesting idea, nicely executed. The author, one of four brothers, discusses all kinds of issues relating to brothers, including the relationships within his own family, psychological issues relating to brothers, and illustrations using famous brothers in history, such as John Wilkes Booth and his brothers, Vincent and Theo Van Gogh, the Kennedys, and many others. I am the same age as the author, and also am one of four brothers, so some things on the family historical side of the story were e [...]

    9. This is two books in one, with chapters about the complicated relationships of famous brothers in history (to name a few, Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, Theo and Vincent Van Gogh, W. K. and John Harvey Kellogg of breakfast food fame), and the life-long story of the author’s complicated relationships with his own brothers. Having read George Howe Colt’s earlier memoir, The Big House,I anticipated a well-written book chock full of interesting information and thoughtful analysis, and was not disa [...]

    10. This book enriched my life in a small but meaningful way. It rambles at points, especially when relating stories of famous brothers through history, but hardly to its detriment. It's a grand work that I think any reader should appreciate -- especially those for whom family is very important. I found reading it to be unexpectedly cathartic -- I am close to my brother but had hardly stopped to consider just how important he is to me, and how powerfully my closeness (and rivalry) with him has shape [...]

    11. What a fun book! Mr. Colt writes clarity about growing up with his three brothers, and the alternate chapter format (one chapter for his life, one chapter for a famous set of brothers) worked very nicely at keeping the story fresh, lively, and moving. I got this as a Christmas gift from an uncle, and have since given a copy to other family members, but kept my own copy for my library. Some chapters started to drag on at times, but Mr. Colt seemed to know when my attention span and want for detai [...]

    12. I abandoned my plan of drinking my way around the world at the Wursthaus -- too expensive, too bourgeois -- in favor of downing pints of Guinness at the Plow & Stars, a cozy pub whose Irish overtones seemed far more literarily useful, or draining twenty-five-cent drafts at Whitney's, a blue-collar watering hole patronized by solitary middle-aged men whose silence I assumed spoke to oracular wisdom and not a pie-faced stupor as we marinated in the evening light tableau vivant I convinced myse [...]

    13. I liked the idea of this book, a memoir of life as one of four brothers alternating with sketches of famous brothers in history. I ended up being disappointed in this book, and didn't get too far before it was (over)due at the library, so I gave up. In the part I read I didn't feel like the author said much that was new about his own brothers, and found it irritating that he interjected more of his own memories in the historical portion.

    14. I read the six chapters on the Colt brothers. So interesting to hear the perspective of one and then how differently each brother perceives his place and role in the family. Certainly pushed my own thinking on how each sib can have such a different experience and view. Will read the chapters on the more well-known brothers at some point.

    15. I enjoyed the book. As a mother of two sons, I look at their interactions in an entirely different light, wondering how all their squabbling will end up. The book was very hopeful, indicating that even if brothers are not close or fight a lot as kids, they can still grow to have a close relationship in adulthood. That was reassuring!

    16. I enjoyed this book in part because it describes the relationship among the author's brothers growing up in 1960's, when I was a kid, and the author paints a vivid picture of life as a kid in those days. Of course, the book also describes the relationships of other, more famous brothers from the past, but I found the stories I enjoyed most were those from the author's own life.

    17. I really enjoyed this book. I'm going to give it to Tim to read this summer. It gave me some good insights into the relationships between my sons, and also between my sisters and myself. I enjoyed reading the stories of historical sets of brothers, many of which I never knew. But I found especially interesting the sections centered on the author and his own brothers.

    18. Not an absorbing page turner but still a great read. Anyone from a history buff to a trivia nerd, psych major, or someone's brother or sister will enjoy the mix of family dynamics and storytelling interspersed through this book.

    19. Loved all the stories - about a third of the book is about the Colts, another third his big five: the Booths, Kelloggs, Van Gogh's, Marxes, Thoreaus. The final third was perhaps the most fun - odds and ends of brothers from Adams to Freud.

    20. This is an excellent memoir written by George Howe Colt about his own brothers. Colt alternates chapters between his story and other Brothers through our history. I learned so much about the Booths, the Kellogg's.Highly Recommended!!

    21. Interesting. He details the stories of the Booth, Kellogg, Marx brothers along with his own family relationships. Most interesting how he dropped in short passages about sibling research and scores of other famous brothers. Slow at times, best read episodically

    22. This was a slow starter though I warmed up to the stories and Colt's writing. It is worth a read for the final truths which are delivered about siblings. I enjoyed the recounting of the Kellogg's, the Marx Brothers, the Thoreaus in addition to the stories of the Colt Brothers.

    23. Very well written. I really enjoyed the alternating chapters. Colt started off with his brothers , then chose famous brothers e.g. The Kellogg's, Booths, Van Goghs et al. to highlight.

    24. Liked some parts, others seemed alien to me. Probably due to only having 1 brother and me not being a guy.

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