Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reviews of The Beast of Chicago and The Fatal Bullet by Rick Geary

Lee got me into Rick Geary’s work and I have read a few books by Geary and the latest two I have read are The Beast of Chicago and The Fatal Bullet. For NBM Comics, Geary specializes in giving us the backgrounds and histories of famous Victorian Era murders and these two books are part of that series. The books are easy reads and not only give us a compelling story, but you learn about history and get a flavor for what it must have been like to live in that ear.

The Fatal Bullet is about the assassination of President James Garfield. The story is told as almost parallel storylines giving us the history of President Garfield and the assassin Charles Guiteau. It is a fascinating story as I learned about the man Garfield was and how at an early age he was very accomplished. Also he was forced into the nomination for President by a party that was so divided Garfield became a compromise candidate and then barely won the election. The account by this book show Garfield to be an honorable man and one that you could place your trust in and maybe if he had had a chance could have been a great President. It almost makes me sad to realize the caliber of people we have running our country today versus the man Garfield was portrayed as. This is not to say everyone in that time was good, there were scandals and corruption in that time as there has always been in any seat of power, it is just that you get the sense from reading this book that Garfield was one of the good guys.

Guiteau on the other hand was the polar opposite of Garfield, Where Garfield was a scholar and civil war hero, Guiteau was more of a draft dodger and a self important man of no true means. Guiteau would have been one of the types of people vying to be on a reality show in today’s society to try and garner some attention. He was ultimately a deluded man who only gained any prominence by the cowardly act of assassinating the President.

I also learned that Garfield lingered a very long time after being shot and would probably have survived the assassination attempt with modern medicine and the abilities of our surgeons. His ultimate passing and the hanging of his killer marked a different time in our country and this OGN does a terrific job of entertaining and educating at the same time. It is almost a deceptive book in that it is such an easy read you are almost fooled into learning about the time. It is certainly a nice change of pace from other illustrative storytelling and the trade paperback is only $9.95.

The Beast of Chicago: The Murderous Career of H.H. Holmes was a much tougher read in some ways as the man was an absolute sociopath. In the course of this book we learn about a man who manages to con the world and woman in particular into believing almost any of his lies and tricks. During the course of the story we see him marry three different women at the same time, maintain a façade on multiple fronts and build a house that was called the Castle. The Castel was laden with trap doors, sealed rooms, secret passageways and more to appear to be an almost comic book villain definition of a house of horrors. We learn he killed children and perhaps 100 or more people and often made a profit of it by creating a business of selling their articulate skeletons to medical schools and physicians for medical research.

It is such an unbelievable story because you would like to believe this type of stuff could not happen today, but in reading the account of his life he was only caught because it appeared he got tired of continuing to run the multiple con games. A man who was truly what we would classify as evil, but must have presented himself as someone whom you would trust and perhaps even like.

As I read the story it occurred to me that we are so dominated by the chemical components of what is in our brains that how this type of person actually thinks and what the chemical makeup of his brai was would be fascinating. Does someone like that even see other people as human or just things? Again the trade of this book is only $9.95.

In fact go out to NBM’s website and check out Rick Geary’s many books and they are usually running sales or order one from your comic book store. Both are recommended and books that I’m passing on to others. I have also read Geary’s biography of Leo Trotsky from Macmillian as well as other NBM books The Mystery of Mary Rogers, The Lindbergh Child and The Murder of Abraham Lincoln. All well worth reading and I have to thank Lee for pushing this material on me until I acquiesced and read one and then I was hooked.

1 comment:

  1. If you liked The Beast you should check out The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Not a graphic novel but a novel. It also ties, tangentially, to the Garfield assassination.