Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History
Here is a wonderful potpourri of 19th-century American history constructed around the saga of Chang and Eng, a pair of conjoined twins. Author Yunte Huang spins the remarkable tale that began on the Mekong Delta in Siam, present day Thailand. Born in 1811, the boys, joined at the trunk by a girdle of cartilage, were brought to the US as teenagers to be exploited at “freak” shows. Occasionally, the idea of surgery to separate the twins was discussed but then faltered as their exploiters recognized the twins’ worth as money spinners would halt.
Each step in the narrative is a source of wonderment, a chance to explore contemporary social, scientific, medical, and economic advances. Huang follows Chang and Eng’s path in the United States and later Europe as they were displayed before audiences that commiserated even as they were fascinated.
After years of fame in an age of hoaxes, the twins escaped and advanced, setting down roots in North Carolina, marrying, and between them fathering twenty-one children. Huang details the intricacies of a shared life, the two small and lastingly foreign men coping with rural America as slave owners and successful farmers. Chang a heavy-drinking extrovert, Eng quieter and a teetotaler, their disparate personalities and behaviors reveal both sadness and admiration in this compelling rendezvous with American history.
After editing at City Book Review for a few years, I took up the duties of editorial assistant, which include assigning books for review, posting reviews to our various sites, and nagging reviewers for things. In my non-nagging time, I’m a gamer, artist, writer, and notorious black thumb/bane of plants. My answer to every book-related question: read Octavia Butler.
|Page Count||416 pages|
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|Category||Biographies & Memoirs|