What the Van Goghs, Booths, Marxes, Kelloggs--and Colts--Tell Us About How Siblings Shape Our Lives and History


From the bestselling National Book Award finalist, a “masterful blend of history and memoir” (San Francisco Chronicle) featuring the author’s three brothers as well as iconic brothers in history—John and Henry David Thoreau; Vincent and Theo van Gogh; John Harvey and Will Kellogg; Edwin and John Wilkes Booth; and Harpo, Chico, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo Marx.

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.
  • Scribner | 
  • 480 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416547785 | 
  • May 2014
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More Books from this Author

November of the Soul
The Big House

About the Author

George Howe Colt
Photograph by Ellen M. Augarten

George Howe Colt

George Howe Colt is the bestselling author of The Big House, which was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times notable book of the year, and November of the Soul: The Enigma of Suicide.  He lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife, Anne Fadiman, and their two children.