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How, despite being regarded by literary circles as far from a great work, has Dracula so permeated the popular imagination? In the near 120 years since its first publication, it’s been the inspiration for countless other books, movies, and television programs, yet few people actually read more than the beginning and end (and maybe a few of the saucier bits in between). There’s just something about Dracula, and Jim Steinmeyer’s quest to illuminate his origins are, happily, if somewhat ironically, far more interesting than the original book itself.
In Who Was Dracula? Bram Stoker’s Trail of Blood, Steinmeyer explores the possible inspirations for the creation of the iconic character. In so doing, he offers a window into a life that was perhaps far more interesting than Stoker’s fictional creation. Steinmeyer’s descriptions of Stoker’s life are much richer and more engaging than anything in Dracula; his real life friends, contemporaries, and acquaintances (Walt Whitman! Oscar Wilde! Maybe even Jack the Ripper!) are much more intriguing than moralizing Mina or even loose cannon Van Helsing. Who Was Dracula? is everything Dracula isn’t - lushly written, even toned, and thoroughly engaging. It is quite simply a delight!