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Asylum Mass Market Paperback – 1947

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Journalist and explorer William Seabrook (1884–1945) possessed a fascination with the occult that led him across the globe to study magic rituals, train as a witch doctor, and sample human flesh. In addition to publishing more than a dozen books, he wrote for The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, and Vanity Fair.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; Bantam ed edition (1947)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006P6YU4
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,539,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
In F. Scott Fitzgerald's book The Crack-Up: (Reissue), he mentions in passing the memoir of a man who had himself committed to an institution. Both he and Fitzgerald had cracked under the same pressure, or so Fitzgerald thought. The man was William Seabrook, a world-famous travel writer from the Lost Generation and the book was Asylum. In 1934, Seabrook knew he was slowly drinking himself to death and entered an insane asylum. There, from the perspective of a travel writer, he described his own journey through this strange and foreign place. Today, you can't read a page in the book without seeing him bump, unknowingly, into the basic principles of 12-step groups. On a regular basis, he says things so clear, so self-aware that you're stunned an addict could have written it - shocked that this book isn't a classic American text.

I read three of Seabrook's books back to back so I'm unable to say where one stopped and another began. But you find that the deep, ceaseless fear that drove him to drink was that he'd die a mediocre writer, barely remembered. Ultimately, this is what happened. It was this fear and anxiety that drove Seabrook around the world. It's awful, really, because aside from the occasional strange phrase, there isn't a word in his books that couldn't have been just as easily written today. I mean the whole gonzo concept of Wolfe and Thompson was essentially done by Seabrook 30+ years prior and in a bolder way. He went to Africa while Thompson barely made it to Vegas.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
It is indeed sad that William Seabrook has been all but forgotten. This book is a memoir written about the author's time in an Asylum (mental institution) in 1933 where he spent seven months to beat his addiction to alcohol. Throughout, the book is rife with keen and telling insights into what drove this man to drink as well as into the simple fears that we all struggle with on a daily basis; some of the things that he digs up are truly haunting. His writing style and candor are, in my experience, of another generation making this book very readable and relevant today. Though I don't want to draw away from the real strength of this book it would be remiss of me to omit some of its lighter aspects. Throughout the book Seabrook relates situations that occur between other patients. One example is when a group of patients who all believe that they are Napoleon Bonaparte are being laughed at by another patient. When Seabrook asks the second patient why he is laughing he looks at the group and points out the irony that those guys are arguing over who the real Napoleon is when he (the second patient believes himself to be the real Napoleon) is standing right there. It's hysterical in a totally callous and insensitive way. I loved this book and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of several other books by the same author.

Pick this one up today! You will not be disappointed
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
In F. Scott Fitzgerald's book The Crack Up, he mentions in passing the memoir of a man who had himself committed to an institution. Both he and Fitzgerald had cracked under the same pressure, or so Fitzgerald thought. The man was William Seabrook, a world-famous travel writer from the Lost Generation and the book was Asylum. In 1934, Seabrook knew he was slowly drinking himself to death and entered an insane asylum. There, from the perspective of a travel writer, he described his own journey through this strange and foreign place. Today, you can't read a page in the book without seeing him bump, unknowingly, into the basic principles of 12-step groups. On a regular basis, he says things so clear, so self-aware that you're stunned an addict could have written it - shocked that this book isn't a classic American text.

I read three of Seabrook's books back to back so I'm unable to say where one stopped and another began. But you find that the deep, ceaseless fear that drove him to drink was that he'd die a mediocre writer, barely remembered. Ultimately, this is what happened. It was this fear and anxiety that drove Seabrook around the world. It's awful, really, because aside from the occasional strange phrase, there isn't a word in his books that couldn't have been just as easily written today. I mean the whole gonzo concept of Wolfe and Thompson was essentially done by Seabrook 30+ years prior and in a bolder way. He went to Africa while Thompson barely made it to Vegas. He was a Hearst syndicate writer, one of the earliest Americans to serve in the First World War, a horse bandit in the Middle East, the first Western writer to taste human flesh and describe it, the first to use the word `zombie' in an English text. Yet all his books are out of print and hard to find.
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