Thursday, May 13, 2010

Week 14: The Good, The Bad, and the Mad by E. Randall Floyd

Whatever this author lacked in style, he made up for in solid investigative labor. It read quite like a history book, full of facts, less like literature.

We all know history is full of misfits, but this author really found some good ones who made their mark on history, despite the fact that most of their contemporaries wished that they would simply fade away into obscurity. And they might have, if they hadn't been mass murderers, con artists, and founders of religious cults.

Ever want to know how Voodoo got its start in New Orleans? Ever hear of Joshua Abraham Norton, the emporer of San Francisco? Oh, then there's the pilot who plastered together a frankenstein airplane and "accidentally" flew across the Atlantic. Yeah, I won't forget that guy anytime soon!

As it turns out, acceptable behavior changes from decade to decade, and for every amazing achiever, there seems to be an equally eccentric and flawed character attempting to make a name for himself (or herself).

If anything, this alternative view of history teaches us that we are all in this together, and that these characters effectively serve as our nation's weirdest aunts and uncles.

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