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    Banvard's Folly: Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn't Change the World (Paperback) By (author) Paul Collins

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    DescriptionThe historical record crowns success. Those enshrined in its annals are men and women whose ideas, accomplishments, or personalities have dominated, endured, and most important of all, found champions. John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage," Giorgio Vasari's "Lives of the Artists," and Samuel Johnson's "Lives of the Poets" are classic celebrations of the greatest, the brightest, the eternally constellated. Paul Collins' "Banvard's Folly" is a different kind of book. Here are thirteen unforgettable portraits of forgotten people: men and women who might have claimed their share of renown but who, whether from ill timing, skullduggery, monomania, the tinge of madness, or plain bad luck-or perhaps some combination of them all-leapt straight from life into thankless obscurity. Among their number are scientists, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and adventurers, from across the centuries and around the world. They hold in common the silenced aftermath of failure, the name that rings no bells. Collins brings them back to glorious life. John Banvard was an artist whose colossal panoramic canvasses (one behemoth depiction of the entire eastern shore of the Mississippi River was simply known as "The Three Mile Painting") made him the richest and most famous artist of his day. . . before he decided to go head to head with P. T. Barnum. Rene Blondot was a distinguished French physicist whose celebrated discovery of a new form of radiation, called the N-Ray, went terribly awry. At the tender age of seventeen, William Henry Ireland signed "William Shakespeare" to a book and launched a short but meteoric career as a forger of undiscovered works by the Bard -- until he pushed his luck too far. John Symmes, a hero of the War of 1812, nearly succeeded in convincing Congress to fund an expedition to the North Pole, where he intended to prove his theory that the earth was hollow and ripe for exploitation; his quixotic quest counted Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe among its greatest admirers. Collins' love for what he calls the "forgotten ephemera of genius" give his portraits of these figures and the other nine men and women in "Banvard's Folly" sympathetic depth and poignant relevance. Their effect is not to make us sneer or revel in schadenfreude; here are no cautionary tales. Rather, here are brief introductions-acts of excavation and reclamation-to people whom history may have forgotten, but whom now we cannot.


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  • Full bibliographic data for Banvard's Folly

    Title
    Banvard's Folly
    Subtitle
    Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn't Change the World
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Paul Collins
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 318
    Width: 136 mm
    Height: 222 mm
    Thickness: 20 mm
    Weight: 290 g
    Language
    English
    ISBN
    ISBN 13: 9780312300333
    ISBN 10: 0312300336
    Classifications

    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 21600
    BIC geographical qualifier V2: 1KBB
    B&T Book Type: NF
    BIC E4L: BIO
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T4.0
    BIC subject category V2: HBLL, BG
    Ingram Theme: CHRN/19CNTY
    BIC time period qualifier V2: 3JH
    BIC subject category V2: HBJK
    B&T General Subject: 170
    B&T Modifier: Subject Development: 03
    B&T Modifier: Academic Level: 05
    Ingram Subject Code: BA
    Libri: I-BA
    DC22: B
    B&T Approval Code: A01980000
    B&T Merchandise Category: POD
    BISAC V2.8: HIS036040
    B&T Approval Code: A01700000
    BISAC V2.8: BIO000000
    Thema V1.0: DNB, NHK
    Edition statement
    Reprint
    Illustrations note
    black & white illustrations
    Publisher
    St. Martins Press-3pl
    Imprint name
    St. Martins Press-3pl
    Publication date
    01 May 2002
    Author Information
    Paul Collins writes for M"cSweeneys Quarterly," and his work has also appeared in" Lingua Franca" and "eCompany Now." While writing "Banvard's Folly" he lived in San Francisco, where he taught Early American literature at Dominican University. He and his family moved briefly to Wales--a journey about which he is writing a book--and now live in Oregon.
    Review quote
    "No writer better articulates our interest in the confluence of hope, eccentricity, and the timelessness of the bold and strange than Paul Collins. [This book is] sublimely odd, frequently funny, and better yet, thrillingly factual."--Dave Eggers, author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" "Though the most profound question is 'What is the meaning of life?' the most human question 'Don't they know how special I am?' Paul Collins knows. Thanks to these fascinating tales, his forgotten attention-seekers must be rolling over in their graves, if only to finally bask in the limelight."--Sarah Vowell, author of "Take the Cannoli" "Collins's swift, humorous prose makes for satisfying schadenfreude."--"Time Out New York" "[A] lively treatise on eccentricity, flawed genius, and star-crossed obsession."--"The Washington Times" "An unqualified success."--"The Seattle Times" "A remarkably lucid and entertaining peek into the admittedly strange lives of the characters [Collins] has unearthed . . . A witty meditation on the vagaries of fame and the human drive for validation."--"Tucson Weekly" "With crisp prose and engaging storytelling, Collins contemplates the whims of fortune and the foolhardiness of humanity."--"Kirkus Reviews" (starred review) "Hearteningly strange . . . Stretching the bounds of nonfiction's propensity for weirdness, Collins exhumes little-known figures [and] recounts their perversely inspiring battles against the more logical ways of the world."--"The Onion" "The thirteen lives and times to which Collins devotes his considerable scholarship and manifest narrative gifts in "Banvard's Folly" are the flash-in-the-pan, briefly notable, and long-ignored ones-of-a-kind, who remind us of the nobility and futility, the grandeur and begrudgery of our endeavors. Of Collins's endeavor, however, we can proclaim our permanent thanks and amazement and heartiest welcome."--"Los Angeles Times Book Review"