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Eccentrics, Iconoclasts and Extraordinary Lives   Tags: adventure, biographies, daredevils, eccentrics, extraordinary, hoaxes, hucksters, iconoclasts, non-fiction, pioneers, showfolk  

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Amazing Feats

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The Crossing: The glorius tragedy of the first man to swim the English Channel - Kathy Watson
Call Number: 797.21092 WAT
ISBN: 9781585421091
Captain Matthew Webb's gallant twenty-two-hour endeavor popularized the sport of swimming and was the highlight of his life, but it was also the beginning of his ruin. Wearing a ten-pound bathing suit and fueled by eggs and bacon washed down with beer, brandy and claret, he accomplished the aquatic equivalent of summiting Mount Everest.

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The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's obsession and the creation of an American culture - Joshua Kendall
Call Number: B WEBSTER
ISBN: 9780399156991
This is the little-known story of Noah Webster and the creation of Webster's dictionary.

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The Happy Bottom Riding Club: The Life and Times of Pancho Barnes - Lauren Kessler
Call Number: B BARNES
ISBN: 037550124X
Pancho Barns, a pilot, went through three fortunes, four husbands, and countless lovers. She outflew Amelia Earhart, outsmarted Howard Hughes, outdrank the Mexican Army and out-maneuvered the U.S. government.

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The Lost Cyclist: The epic tale of an American Adventurer and his mysterious disappearance - David V. Herlihy
Call Number: B LENZ
ISBN: 9780547195575
In the 1880s, Frank Lenz set out to bicycle around the world on the new "safety bicycle." He never made it and disappeared mysteriously in Turkey.

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The Man who Made Lists: love, death, madness and the creaton of Roget's Thesaurus - Joshua Kendall
Call Number: B ROGET
ISBN: 9780399154621
Peter Mark Roget lived a colorful life full of unexpected twists and discoveries: he narrowly avoided jain in Napoleon's France, assisted famed physician Thomas Beddoes y personally testing the effects of laughing gas, invented the slide rule, and brought to life the book that would become synonymous with synonyms.

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The Measure of Manhattan - Marguerite Holloway
Call Number: B RANDEL
ISBN: 9780393071252
John Randel Jr. (1787-1865) was an eccentric and flamboyant surveyor. In The Measure of Manhattan, Marguerite Holloway explores the science and symbolism of surveying, a craft that begat a surprising number of modern technologies. Tasked with "gridding" what was then an undeveloped, hilly island, Randel recorded the contours of Manhattan down to the rocks on its shores. In his precision he sought to tame the land; Holloway explores this philosophy as well as contemporary efforts to envision Manhattan as a wild island again.

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The Professor and the Madman: A tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English Dictionary - Simon Winchester
Call Number: 423 WIN
ISBN: 0060175966
This book describes the enormous task of compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, its editor, and the insane American who contributed over 10,000 words.

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The Queen of Whale Cay - Kate Summerscale
Call Number: B CARSTAIRS
ISBN: 0670880183
Marion "Joe" Carstairs held the world record for the fastest female speedboat racer in the 1920s, who was notorious for her cross-dressing. She was also the heiress to the Standard Oil fortune.

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To Reach the Clouds: my high wire walk between the twin towers - Philippe Petit
Call Number: B PETIT
ISBN: 0865476519
The stuntman's autobiography

 

Aristocrats and Elite

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Coco Chanel: the legend and the life - Justine Picardie
Call Number: B CHANEL
ISBN: 9780061963858
Unveiling remarkable new details about Gabrielle Chanel's early years in a convent orphanage, and her flight into unconventional adulthood, Justine Picardie explores what lies beneath the glossy surface of a mythic fashion icon.

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Homer & Langley - E.L. Doctorow
Call Number: DOCTOROW
ISBN: 9781400064946
A fictionalized telling of the lives of Homer and Langley Collyer, a pair of wealthy brothers who lived in their 5th Avenue house in complete squalor.

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Howard Hughes: The secret life - Charles Higham
Call Number: B HUGHES
ISBN: 9780399138591
This is the story of the dazzling wealth, ruthless power and seductive charms of Howard Hughes. It tells of his more infamous schemes of corruption and his secret private life.

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Rasputin: the saint who sinned - Brian Moynahan
Call Number: B RASPUTIN
ISBN: 0679419306
The story of the trusted advisor to the Romanov family, who was considered either a saint or a "mad monk."

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The Clarks of Cooperstown: their Singer sewing machine fortune, their great and influential art collections, their forty-year feud - Nicholas Fox Weber
Call Number: B CLARK
ISBN: 9780307263476
This is the account of the idiosyncratic lives of Sterling and Stephen Clark - two of America's greatest art collectors, heirs to the Singer sewing machine fortune, and for decades enemies of each other.

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The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon: the life, loves and lawsuits of a legendary Victorian - Brian Thompson
Call Number: B WELDON
ISBN: 0385500904
A portrait of a true Victorian eccentric - an outrageous, flirtatious, unstoppable woman who survived a slew of misfortunes and wild adventures, mostly of her own making.

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The Richest Girl in the World - Stephanie Mansfield
Call Number: B DUKE
ISBN: 039913672X
The life of Doris Duke, "The Million Dollar Baby."

 

Hucksters

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Charlatan - Pope Brock
Call Number: B BRINKLEY
ISBN: 9780307339881
This is the story of J.R. Brinkley, a man who aspired to become the richest quack doctor in the world. He developed a surgery that involved transplanting goat glands into humans, created the world's largest radio station, ran for Governor of Kansas and thumbed his nose at those who pursued him.

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La Grande Therese - Hilary Spurling
Call Number: B HUMBERT
ISBN: 9780060196226
The true story of a scandal that nearly destroyed the French Third Republic

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The Great Pretenders: the true stories behind famous historical mysteries - Jan Bondeson
Call Number: 001.95 BON
ISBN: 0393019691
Jan Bondeson, M.D., focuses his medical expertise and his insightful wit on the great unsolved mysteries of disputed identity of the last two hundered years.

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The Museum of Hoaxes: a collection of pranks, stunts, deceptions and other wonderful stories contrived for the public from the middle ages to the new millennium - Alex Boese
Call Number: 001.95 BOE
ISBN: 0525946780
Read about the curiosities and cons of the most notorious hornswogglers and flim flam men of the nineteenth century; be astounded at the imposters, pretenders, and tricksters of the twentieth.

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The Sun and the Moon: the remarkable true account of hoaxers, showmen, dueling journalists, and lunar man-bats in nineteenth century New York - Matthew Goodman
Call Number: 974.7103 GOO
ISBN: 9780465002573
In 1835, a New York Newspaper, the Sun, published a series of six articles purported to reveal the existence of life on the moon - including unicorns, beavers that walked upright on the hind legs, and four-foot-tall flying man-bats. This is the story of that elaborate hoax.

This publication was supported in part by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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