Banvard's Folly: Tales of Renowned Obscurity, Famous Anonymity and Rotten Luck

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Picador, Nov 1, 2002 - Eccentrics and eccentricities - 286 pages
6 Reviews

History will long remember the Edisons, Einsteins and Darwins: they succeeded in changing the world, and the world has repaid them by enshrining their names. But what of those others with similarly revolutionary and groundbreaking ideas who plummeted into oblivion? What of the man who invented the N-ray? Or the one who made up a universal singing language? They are gone and forgotton. . . until now.

'Failure is generally a lot more interesting than success . . . this book was only a modest success in America; it deserves to be a huge one here, since we have a better natural empathy with the sweet misery of not being quite good enough at things. Failure's coming home; we should all support it by buying Paul Collins' wonderful book' Mail on Sunday

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Cheryl_in_CC_NV - LibraryThing

1.5 stars. Neat idea, but Collins had not yet developed his voice, and so it is much too dry. I admit I did not read it carefully, but I did read at least one sentence from every page, and often much more than that. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MiaCulpa - LibraryThing

While the book promises biographies of obscure people, I had read about most of the people featured here before; indeed several of them, such as Robert Coates, Delia Bacon and Psalmanazar, are ... Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Paul Collins is a writer specializing in history, memoir, and unusual antiquarian literature. His nine books have been translated into eleven languages, and include Not Even Wrong: A Father's Journey Into the Lost History of Autism (2004), and The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars (2011). He is a 2009 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction. In 2014, his non-fiction work (Duel with the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America's First Sensational Murder Mystery) was listed on the New York Times bestseller list. Collins also teaches creative nonfiction as an associate professor in the MFA program at Portland State University.

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