Biography of Broken Fortunes: Wilkie and Bob, Brothers of William, Henry, and Alice James

Jane Maher, Author Archon Books $27.5 (221p) ISBN 978-0-208-02109-0
Based on a reexamination of family letters, this first book since 1934 about the two younger James brothers, Garth Wilkinson and Robertson, sympathetically describes their ""pains and sufferings and mistakes'': their Civil War service, the failed attempt to run a Florida plantation, lack of distinction as railway employees in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Wilkie had a genius for making friends, was bankrupt, developed kidney and heart problems, was left out of his father's will, and died at 38, not long after his parents. Unsuccessful at poetry and painting, Bob, an alcoholic with a violent temper, spent many years in asylums, and died at 63, not long before his brother William. Maher, who teaches at Fairfield University in Connecticut, believes that the four brothers ``loved and cared for each other as equals.'' It seems unlikely that anyone would have written a separate book about the younger two if William and Henry had not achieved prominence. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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