They came into the world as one - inseparably tied together at their chests - yet they were two. They were born on May 11, 1811, on a bamboo mat in a small houseboat afloat on the river in the village of Meklong, located 60 miles west of Bangkok, the capital of Siam. They became world celebrities, American citizens, married two native-born Southern sisters, and between them fathered 21 children, while acquiring respectable status as landowners, famers, slave owners, and pillars of their local community.
"They" were the famous, the first, the original Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng, and their story is told in this fascinating and remarkable book in such detail, with such enormous insight and warmth, and with such a superb sense of drama, that one understands, for the first time, just how bizarre, heroic, tragic, and human their lives in fact were.
Linked by Nature, Chang and Eng were fated to spend their lives joined by a thick, fleshy ligament resembling an arm, five to six inches long and eight inches in circumference, that connected them at the base of their chests. Yet they could swim, perform gymnastic feats and lead "normal" lives. Together they built their own house, opened a store, became wealthy gentlemen farmers, skilled horse breakers and, when necessary, defended themselves with their fists.
The most fascinating part of the story is, of course, their physical link to each other; for as Chang and Eng grew older, each dreamed of a separate life, despite the obvious risks that an operation would entail, and each feared that the death of one would cause the death of the other. Nor were their natures altogether harmonious, for each was a highly individual person: Eng, quiet, contemplative, and even-tempered; Chang, hot-tempered, quarrelsome and, as he grew older, inclined to bouts of heavy drinking. Chang's insistence on going to his own house in midwinter (the brothers arranged to alternate three days in one's house and three days in the other's) eventually led to exactly the death both had feared, for Eng died, perhaps out of fright and shock, an hour after Chang's life ended.
The Two is a biography of two remarkable lives, astonishing in its extraordinary descriptions of the brothers' triumph over their handicap and fascinating in its exploration of just how the Siamese Twins lived, spent their childhood, adjusted to fame, fought against being exploited by showmen, promoters and well-wishers, loved (and made love) and searched in vain for the surgical miracle that could separate them. It is a startling, original, and moving book.
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Entertaining & Informative.
Entertaining and informative history of the lives of the twins. It would deserve 5 stars except the narration - ( and pronunciation of reasonably common words ) – was adolescent.
1 person found this helpful
- Montzalee W
A very personable look at their lives!
The Two: A Biography of the Original Siamese Twins
By: Irving Wallace, Amy Wallace
Narrated by: Michael Adashefski
This is a book I received free from Audioboom and the review is voluntary. I suppose a great deal of people are fascinated with these two people even today, I know I am. They were attached yet lived a long productive life but that's about the extent of my knowledge. This book really filled in lots of gaps. It follows the twins from birth until after death. Their travels, what they learned on their trips, how they made a living, their wives, their in-laws, how they survived living with a large household of children and two wives (two houses and rules!), things about their children, and more.
It also went into how they died, what happened and when. What happened to the body and more.
It also told about each twins personality as they were growing up, how it changed. What they could do even attached to each other that astonished others.
I found this a very personable look into their lives and not a book of facts about them. I came away from this feeling glad I had a glimpse into their lives, even if it was only through a window of the past. I felt I knew them a little. They weren't just a freek show oddity but a pair of intelligent, loving, family men that contributed to their community and handled a difficult lifelong situation far better than I could ever dream of.
A very interesting and informative book.It tells the history of other twins that lived,but non were so spectaculor as these men.Michael Adashefski gave a fine performance in sideshow barker style.I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.'