The Fall of the House of Walworth by Geoffrey O'Brien
A Tale of Madness and Murder in Gilded Age America

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Geoffrey O'Brien's eloquent "The Fall of the House of Walworth" vividly resurrects the idiosyncratic and ultimately tragic malcontents who for four generations lived at Pine Grove.
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Synopsis

In the tradition of The Devil in the White City comes a spell-binding tale of madness and murder in a nineteenth century American dynasty

On June 3, 1873, a portly, fashionably dressed, middle-aged man calls the Sturtevant House and asks to see the tenant on the second floor. The bellman goes up and presents the visitor's card to the guest in room 267, returns promptly, and escorts the visitor upstairs. Before the bellman even reaches the lobby, four shots are fired in rapid succession.

Eighteen-year-old Frank Walworth descends the staircase and approaches the hotel clerk. He calmly inquires the location of the nearest police precinct and adds, "I have killed my father in my room, and I am going to surrender myself to the police."

So begins the fall of the Walworths, a Saratoga family that rose to prominence as part of the splendor of New York's aristocracy. In a single generation that appearance of stability and firm moral direction would be altered beyond recognition, replaced by the greed, corruption, and madness that had been festering in the family for decades.

 

About Geoffrey O'Brien

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Geoffrey O'Brien is the editor-in-chief of The Library of America, and author of fifteen books, most recently The Fall of the House of Walworth, and other works including Hardboiled America, Dream Time, The Phantom Empire, The Times Square Story, The Browser's Ecstasy, Castaways of the Image Planet, and Sonata for Jukebox. He has contributed frequently to The New York Review of Books, Artforum, Film Comment, and other publications. He lives in New York City.
 
Published July 14, 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction
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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Edward J. Renehan Jr. on Jul 20 2010

Geoffrey O'Brien's eloquent "The Fall of the House of Walworth" vividly resurrects the idiosyncratic and ultimately tragic malcontents who for four generations lived at Pine Grove.

Read Full Review of The Fall of the House of Walw... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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