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.
Chris Hayden has been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.
|Page Count||416 pages|
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|Category||Biographies & Memoirs|