Book Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Mad by E. Randall Floyd
American history is full of offbeat people, some downright weird. The author was (like many a lad) fascinated by their stories when he was young. Then he got to interview Erich von Daeniken (Chariots of the Gods) and decided to make writing about unusual people a full-time hobby. This book is one of the results.
It contains 37 mini-biographies of interesting people in American history, arranged alphabetically from Jane Addams (social worker and pacifist) to Wovoka (Native American mystic and the leader of the “Ghost Dance” movement.) There are the really obvious candidates, like “Emperor” Joshua Norton of San Francisco and Nikola Tesla (eccentric inventor.) But there are also more obscure figures, like Giacomo Beltrami, who didn’t quite discover the source of the Mississippi, and Bernarr MacFadden (health nut.)
The writing is okay, but these are very short biographies, and some of the subjects have had entire (and much better) books written about them. There are no illustrations, no citations or bibliography, and no index. Your college professor isn’t going to accept this as a source!
While written for adults, I think this book would best serve as a gift to a bright teenager who can then look further for more information about any person that catches their fancy. It’s a good book for a quick read, and some interesting historical moments.