33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
An Unbelievably Interesting Life,
This review is from: A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley (Hardcover)
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Neal Thompson's biography of "Believe It or Not!" founder Robert Ripley is as fascinating as its subject. The book's title is a clever double entendre, for Mr. Ripley was not only "A Curious Man" on a lifelong, worldwide quest to discover the bizarre and unusual, he was a strange and unique phenomenon in his own right.
In painstaking detail, the author follows Ripley through his complicated childhood, his early struggles as a newspaper cartoonist, his heyday as a one-man multi-media powerhouse, his personal decline and demise, and finally, through his still-vibrant legacy. What makes the narrative especially absorbing is Thompson's ability to connect Ripley's life with the history of the times he lived in (1890-1949). We see how he was impacted by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, two world wars, the Great Depression, the golden ages of print and radio, and the dawn of the television era. It becomes readily apparent that although Ripley's career was a product of the times, he himself was a restless, ambiguous and sometimes self-indulgent nonconformist who conducted his private life according to his own peculiar whims and ideas.
I truly enjoyed reading this incisive, carefully researched, and scrupulously annotated biography. Author Thompson makes it fun by presenting pertinent asides and footnotes as little nuggets entitled "Believe It!" throughout the text. I suspect Ripley himself would have approved. Highly recommended!