Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
This account of the fraternal conflict between Edwin Booth-one of the most acclaimed Shakespearean actors of his era-and his less successful brother John Wilkes, who would soon achieve another, far darker brand of immortality for his own dramatic act, is read by John Bedford Lloyd, whose placid tone belies an undertone of menace. His reading is solid but uninspired-a surprising tone for a book that is itself about the lives of two singular dramatists. The audiobook also offers an introduction read by Doris Kearns Goodwin, who good-naturedly, if slightly awkwardly, pays tribute to the quality of Titone's scholarship. A Free Press hardcover. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A collective biography of the celebratedand reviledBooth family of actors.In her debut, historical researcher Titone adopts the emerging biographical technique of examining a family instead of an individual (e.g., Paul Fisher'sHouse of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family, 2008). Although it's difficult to keep the spotlight away from murderous John Wilkesunsurprisingly, he dominates the final chaptersthe author does a remarkably thorough job of illuminating the lives of his parents and siblings, most notably older brother Edwin, a 19th-century stage mega-star who once played Hamlet on 100 consecutive nights and dined with President Lincoln, a fan. Titone begins with a tribute to Edwin on New Year's Eve, 1892, a gala function attended by President Grover Cleveland. The author then moves back to England in the 1820s, where Junius Brutus Booth (Edwin and John's father), a notable London actor, was fleeing to America, abandoning his wife and child, in company with pregnant Mary Ann Holmes. After providing the relevant back stories, the author relates the astonishing American success of Junius Brutus, and notes the fierce secrecy about his marital life (it later crumbled). Three of the sons became actors, but Edwin had the greatest talent and eventually became wealthy and influential. John Wilkes, writes Titone, had great ambition and a matinee idol's looks, but little thespian ability. Though his surname gained him gigs, he rarely impressed either critics or audiences. The three brothers once did a benefit performance ofJulius Caesar together, and had plans forRomeo and Juliet at the time John Wilkes was off interruptingOur American Cousin in Washington, D.C. After the assassination, Edwin never again uttered his brother's name publicly.Though some historical detail seems more tangential than pertinent, the multiple portraits display hidden facets of all the Booths.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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