I've often wondered about the true origin and evolution of Santa Claus, and my interest sparked my impulsive buy of this biography this year. Much of what is discussed in this book is information I already knew to one extent or another, and the content I was most interested in--Santa Claus's appearance in history and his morph from a Catholic saint to a seemingly secular jolly old man--didn't encompass most of the book. The most interesting facts of the early days seemed glossed over to a certain extent for me, so while the commentary at times brought up good points, it wasn't as enlightening as I hoped.Alex
This book starts off strong but loses its way about halfway through. The historical parts, from Santa's earliest origins to representations in the mid twentieth century, are very interesting, but after that the book meanders. Bowler has some frustrating habits, such as referring to events in a very roundabout way (calling a place 'a certain town', instead of naming the town, as if this will be universally understood), and being extremely inconsistent about his attributions. As history major myself, it made me cringe to see some quotes introduced simply as 'as one author wrote...', leaving the reader to find further information about the quote in the poorly formatted notes at the back of the book, while quotes from A Christmas Carol were attributed to Dickens, despite the fact that it's likely that more readers will immediately identify the author without needing to be told than they will the lesser known authors that Bowler leaves to the back pages. Bowler's writing style is also grating at times, with turns of phrase that seem self-consciously clever, but I could forgive all that if it weren't for the last twenty five pages, which feature a tonally out of place condemnation of 'political correctness', and an extremely sentimental and saccharine closing paragraph. The majority of the book seemed to be written as a history but it ends like a badly written op-ed. Thankfully I bought this at a second hand book store that was closing down, so I didn't pay very much for it.Simone
An alright Christmas book, some of the earlier Christmas history was more interesting than the present day stuff. It got a bit list-y after a while. Still a fun read about the tradition that is Santa.