Eccentrics

Madame Blavatsky's Baboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America

By Peter Washington

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This fascinating book traces the growth of "theosophy," which together with both similar and competing movements, became New Age. Some of the people involved in this "evolution" (a term Madame Blavatsky would have despised!) were, to put it mildly, a bit eccentric.

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The Fasting Girl: a True Victorian Medical Mystery

By Michelle Stacey

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In June 1865, 18-year-old Mollie Fancher was dragged by a Brooklyn trolley car for nearly a block, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. She then took to her bed for the rest of her long life, becoming an international celebrity because she was able to survive without, apparently, ever eating. Was she a fraud, a saint or a victim of mental illness -- or a bit of all these things?

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Ghosty Men: The Strange but True Story of the Collyer Brothers, New York's Greatest Hoarders, an Urban Historical

By Franz Lidz

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“Homer and Langley Collier moved into their handsome brownstone in white, upper-class Harlem in 1909. By 1947, however, when the fire department was forced to lower Homer's dead body by rope out of the house he hadn't left in nearly a decade, the neighborhood had degentrified, and the Collyers' home had become a sealed fortress of junk. Dedicated to preserving the past, the brothers had held on to virtually everything they had ever touched. …The front-page scandal of the discovery of Homer's body and the worldwide search for his brother, Langley, is interwoven with the heartbreaking story of the author's uncle Arthur, whose own tower of 'stuff' topples when he is blindsided by a mysterious and seductive femme fatale.”

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