Unremembered: Tales of the Nearly Famous & the Not Quite Forgotten is a nonfiction collection of historical events and figures written by Ken Zurski. Zurski is a broadcaster, speaker and author whose books recreate the past. This book casts a spotlight on several dozen personalities and shares their contributions to society and progress. Among them are Nellie Bly, who bluffed and blustered her way into a well-deserved career in journalism when women were not welcome, and who circumnavigated the globe in less than 80 days; Nathaniel Currier, whose lithographic processes changed how news was disseminated, and Sam Patch, the Jersey Jumper, whose acrobatic skill and daring finally met its match in the Genesee Falls. Zurski covers the tragic, fiery destruction of the Lexington in the Long Island Sound on a freezing winter night; the fiery conflagration that leveled the New York City’s Wall Street Area and the Great Chicago fire; and the evolution of the flying machine.
Ken Zurski’s Unremembered is a grand and glorious tapestry of events and personages whose impacts were definitely felt, but whose stories have for the most part been forgotten or overlooked. I was fascinated by the way he weaves each person into the stories he tells, and I loved the care with which he develops his stories about Niagara Falls and aviation history, and used lithographs and historical artwork in his presentation. Zurski is a gifted storyteller who makes those forgotten people come to life — he even instills a purpose and rationale for the temperance firebrand Carrie Nation as he discusses the development of women’s rights and suffrage through the 19th and 20th centuries. I was fascinated by his stories and loved learning about the unknown heroes, villains and trailblazers he highlights in this work. I was also pleased with the extensive bibliography he included. Unremembered: Tales of the Nearly Famous & the Not Quite Forgotten is most highly recommended.
Read more reviews here: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/unremembered?fbclid=IwAR1mRGTng0j5Y-P76nGLKxcriP22-UP_xNCxVdMDjFgTvuCkTOuajddoCk8
Author Ken Zurski (Peoria Stories & The Wreck of the Columbia) answers questions about his new book “UNREMEMBERED: Tales of the Nearly Famous and the Not Quite Forgotten:”
Unremembered is an interesting word. Why did you choose it?
I really liked it for one. It’s not used very often, but I saw it once and immediately knew it fit what I was trying to do.
And that would be a blog of forgotten history stories?
Well, yea, sort of. I was thinking a book first and thought it would make a terrific title. I had stories but wasn’t sure of the direction. I had a list of people and events I’d read about and wanted to write so I started the blog first and now here we are two years later and finally a book.
The book is different from the blog in that it tells multiple stories but within the context of a flowing or entwined narrative. Was that planned?
Mostly, yes. I didn’t want to do a bathroom book with just a bunch of articles. The stories on the blog are short so there would have to be a hundred or more in the book. I began thinking of stories intertwining and that sparked my interest in telling stories of people and events and their connections to each other, something I did in an abbreviated way with my book Peoria Stories. Some of the connections are more obvious than others and there are four parts to Unremembered so there are different themes, but with a thread that connects them all.
Some people seem to pop up and leave and others reemerge. Is this because of their connections?
Oh, Yes. There are probably 70 people featured in the book all under the same guise of being nearly famous or not quite forgotten. Some appear briefly others more prominently.
George Francis Train is one character that seems to have his hand in everything. Did you know that going in?
Oh, of course. Train was probably the person that best exemplifies what I was trying to convey in Unremembered. He was a resourceful figure and had some pretty amazing accomplishments in his lifetime, but he tried too hard to be important. Eventually his antics led many to believe he was insane. Others greatly admired him. In the end though, hardly anyone remembers him.
So he fits under the category of “nearly famous”?
Yes, I suppose, in how time treated his story. Today, he’s certainly not famous when compared to others, but in the later half of the 19th century he was a very famous figure, prominently in the news and influential and controversial too.
And Nellie Bly, the journalist, where does she fit in?
She is sort of like Train but never seemed to push herself into the spotlight like Train did. Certainly traveling around the world is a heady stuff for a woman at the time, but she did it to further her status as a journalist, not become a celebrity. That she became famous was a bonus.
So she is not quite forgotten?
Exactly her name comes up in books about the early history of journalism. But most people don’t know all of her amazing story.
Train and Bly seems to be main characters but don’t enter the book until the third part, especially Bly. Was this by design?
Sort of. Train has a connection to a man we meet in the first part Cornelius Vanderbilt, who has a connection to a steamboat disaster in New York whose tragic events has a connection to a young printer, it just follows along. Train is actually in every part in some way.
Niagara Falls is an interesting subject? How did you choose that to continue the narrative in Part Two?
Beyond the nature part of the beast, there’s a human story to the Falls which really interested me. Why did people risk their life to challenge it? So many stories emerged I had to tell it.
And yet, somehow it ties into balloon travel which ties into the birth of transportation
Yes, Part Three is about reaching new limits and new heights in transportation both by water and air. Some interesting and forgotten stories can be found here beyond the more familiar names like the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh and even the Titanic.
So there is an “unremembered” ship?
There is. Again famous for it’s time, but mostly forgotten now.
And then we’re back to a tragedy in Part Four?
Yes, the Great Chicago Fire.
And a familiar face emerges?
Yes, Train has a history there as well.
It’s all very fascinating stuff and the book covers a lot of ground. Were you ever surprised by the connections?
Most everything in the book is included because of the connections, but there were a few that were unexpected and came about while during research.
They call that writer’s luck, right?
“Unremembered: Tales of the Nearly Famous and the Not Quite Forgotten” is scheduled for release in August 2018 by Amika Press, Chicago.