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Rebel Souls is the first book ever written about the colorful group of artists - regulars at Pfaff's Saloon in Manhattan - rightly considered America's original Bohemians. Besides a young Whitman, the circle included actor Edwin Booth; trailblazing stand–up comic Artemus Ward; psychedelic drug pioneer and author Fitz Hugh Ludlow; and brazen performer Adah Menken, famous for her Naked Lady routine. Central to their times, the artists managed to forge connections with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, and even Abraham Lincoln. This vibrant tale, packed with original research, offers the pleasures of a great group biography like The Banquet Years or The Metaphysical Club. Justin Martin shows how this first bohemian culture - imported from Paris to a dingy Broadway saloon - seeded and nurtured an American tradition of rebel art that thrives to this day.
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By John Semlak on 11-28-17
Colorful history of 19th century literary misfits
This book is a history of several literary figures who were regular patrons of Pfaffs Saloon, a mid-nineteenth century literary hangout in the area that would become Greenwich Village. It follows the lives and careers of Walt Whitman as well as several other figures in the literary circle around Pfaffs. The book is full of colorful detail, and is filled with quotes from literary sources of the time. It's a great account of New York's early literary scene as well as a biography of several characters who were part of Whitman's literary circle.
By G on 11-11-15
A Wonderful Read with Vibrant Characters
What a fantastic book! I chose this after reading Justin Martin's biography of Frederick Law Olmsted. That book was a little on the slow side, but this one moves like a freight train. It's filled with zany characters and the portrait of Walt Whitman that arises is so tender and moving. I was sad when the book was over. Simply superb.
The reader is fairly average. He reads ponderously and worse, there are a lot of French words and phrases in the book and he butchers them.
Still that doesn't detract too much from this great read.