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Book Review: 'Brothers' by George Howe Holt

An Air Warrior and prolific writer with over 200 published short stories and 14 books on fiction



George Howe Colt is a 70 years old American author. Over a span of two decades, Colt has authored many books. His forte as a writer was established when his book ‘The Big House’ was a finalist for the National Book Award.

George Howe Colt was a staff writer for Life (magazine). His book Brothers: On His Brothers and Brothers in History, was published in 2012. It's a personal memoir. He writes about his other 3 brothers and interpolates chapters of his story with iconic brothers in world history, like Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, John and Will Kellogg, Vincent and Theo Van Gogh, John and Henry David Thoreau, plus the Marx boys who came to be known by the nicknames Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo, Chico, and Gummo.



In his book ‘Brothers’, George Colt has touched on a topic that concerns everybody. It is a book about male siblings. In the book, he explains how male siblings differ, and yet despite the differences love grows. A reading of the book explains the family tree to the reader. George Howe Colt is second in line with four brothers. They have no sisters. The book covers two aspects. Firstly, it focuses on the family life of the Colts and can be termed a memoir. Secondly, it spotlights celebrity biography with relevant research about the dynamics of having siblings.

The book brings these diverse aspects of a memoir and a biography of famous brothers together in a superb manner. Both male and female readers can identify with the events narrated. Colt brings out the competitiveness among his brothers, which in many cases can easily convert to enmity. In the case of the Colt brothers, it strengthened their bonds and brought out brotherly love. He mentions that all four brothers when young followed stereotyped roles with the elder shouldering all responsibility and the younger nothing.

Colt shows that character, a quality ingrained in a man, does not change easily. His research brings out that brotherly bonds are unique and can transcend all barriers. He buttresses his argument with cogent research on the brotherly bonds of celebrities. Female readers will also be interested in the book and can relate to their brothers.

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Colt’s research touches on diverse topics like favoritism of parents, rivalry, fate, and violence, which can also lead to fratricide. The world is filled with so much violence and Colt negotiates the subject skilfully. In the entire book, Colt hides nothing and is candid about his siblings. He brings out the fact that differences are overridden by loyalty to each other. Overall the character of Colt that emerges from a reading of the book is that he is a nice man. The book makes interesting reading. His message that once the older generation (parents) pass away, the siblings have only each other to turn to is a telling reminder of what life is.


Last word

Colt has written prodigiously and some of his works that deserve mention are

  • The Enigma of Suicide, 1991, Scribner
    • November of the Soul: The Enigma of Suicide, 2006, Scribner
  • The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home, 2003, Scribner
  • Brothers: On His Brothers and Brothers in History, 2012, Scribner
  • The Game: Harvard, Yale, and America in 1968, 2018, Scribner

Colt married Anne Fadiman (born 1953), a distinguished writer in her own right. She is also part of the narrative in ‘Brothers’.She has received many awards including National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest, and the Salon Book Award.

Colt and Friedman have a daughter and a son and presently stay in Western Massachusetts.

© 2022 MG Singh emge

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