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Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker's Trail of Blood
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Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker's Trail of Blood

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  304 ratings  ·  71 reviews
An acclaimed historian sleuths out literature’s most famous vampire, uncovering the source material – from folklore and history, to personas including Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman – behind Bram Stoker’s bloody creation.

In more than a century of vampires in pop culture, only one lord of the night truly stands out: Dracula. Though the name may conjure up images of Bela Lugo
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published April 4th 2013 by TarcherPerigee
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Dec 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
How much you enjoy or read of this book depends on how much you have read Dracula.

If you have only read Dracula once, you will get much out of this book.

If you have read Dracula more than once, but have read nothing about Stoker or the his London, you will get something out of this book.

If you have read Dracula more than once and know history, you will get nothing out of this book.

If you have read Dracula more than once, read Belford, Florseacu and others, you will get absolutely not
Saturday's Child
Since Dracula rates as one of my favourite novels I decided that this book was worthy of a read. From my readings about Bram Stoker and his life (including this book) I figure that he was a rather complex person. His famous creation Dracula it seems was based on no one person but instead was a combination of people who Bram knew. Thrown into the mix were some historical figures that he read about when he was researching ideas for this novel.
Michelle Leah Olson
Our Review, but LITERAL ADDICTION's Pack Alpha - Michelle L. Olson:
*ARC provided by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Jim Steinmeyer's Who Was Dracula is a delightful pastiche of research & knowledge intertwined with captivating literary allocution.

The fact behind the fiction reveals the complicated social web among the Victorian elite at the time of the novel - both famous and infamous - and shows that the brilliance behind the novel is the fact that there was no brilliance behind t
I'm not going to rate this book. I was excited to get an autographed copy since I'm fascinated with Bram Stoker and Dracula. Unfortunately I couldn't get through it. The author went on and on about Henry Irving (I don't care about him outside his connection with Stoker) and Oscar Wilde. The book was just not what I was hoping it would be. I gave up.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting read, but in the end, somewhat unconvincing. Steinmeyer gives some good examples of why some of the people close to Stoker could have influenced his most famous character, but in the end, it's a great deal of speculation. Stoker didn't leave behind many notes or anything for us to draw conclusions from, so there's not much that can be done other than speculate. There are some interesting facts in here, but it wasn't the insightful look I was hoping for.
Tanner Hayden
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very interesting insight into the life and people of Stoker’s Earthly existence. It gets off to a masterful start, calling me back to the delicious Victorian era, but eventually stutters some as the author comes across as he’s attempting to fit an idea of Oscar Wilde into his book that really didn’t seem to affect the writing of Dracula much at all. None the less, a very solid book I enjoyed a good deal.
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Dracula afficionados
Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

A historical telling of how Bram Stoker’s 100 year old cultural icon – Dracula - was created and became the character that holds awe even today. This book goes into some of the significant happenings going on around the creation of the novel Dracula.


Vampire fascination is not going to go away. We can see that in the popularity of books and cinema that include vampires. Interest in the novel Dracula, even a 100 years beyond its publication,
Apr 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
For the majority of this book I actually would have rated it higher, however, with the addition of Oscar Wilde, my opinion changed drastically. I'm not going to say I'm a know it all about Oscar Wilde, because I don't, but I was puzzled by things stated in the book. I decided to look in the back for references used for his information. From all the biographies and scholarly books written and including the collection of Oscar Wilde letters only three books were used, well only two as Fanny Moyle' ...more
Joy (joyous reads)
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Bram Stoker’s Dracula has been retold, re-made, translated, and molded into the literary great that it is now; whether Stoker we like it or not, the book sacrificed bits and bits of its soul with every interpretation. From the campy B movies of the past and the less than stellar acting of every actor picked for the characters of the book, through the years, the novel has lost some glean of brilliance with every film adaptations.

Twenty pages in to this book, I’ve started to question why I was rea
Jaclyn Hogan
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love the Victorians. I'm not ashamed of it. They're such a delightfully contradictory mix of prudishness and melodrama, straight-laced and bloodthirsty. And few topics embody this contradiction more thoroughly than Dracula.

We live in an age of vampires. They are a symbol that always manages to pack a punch. With the Twilight Saga completed, many might say the vampire is on the wane, having been replaced with the zombie. But zombies, with their taste for flesh instead of blood bound by a lifele
Parts of this book were excellent, and parts were merely frustrating. The parts of the book which detailed the lives of Bram Stoker and his circle of friends and acquaintances were excellent. His life in the theater field, and the reasons why his version of a Dracula play was only staged once, these were outstanding insights into the theatrical world. His relationship with one of the great British actors of the day, along with the nuts and bolts of running a theater company were also great stuff ...more
Aug 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
Part biography, part cultural history, and part literary examination, Steinmeyer's Who Was Dracula? is an excellent companion to Bram Stoker's novel for those who may not be familiar with the British 19th century milieu which gave birth to one of fiction's all time great horrors.

Nothing here will surprise anyone who's done much reading on Stoker or his time, but readers who may have only just met Dracula will be fascinated by the how Stoker's work in theater may have influenced the character (is
Ronald Roseborough
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Who was Dracula? Well apparently he was much more than just his creator, Bram Stoker. At best, Stoker was for the most part, a mediocre writer, gaining very little acknowledgement from critics in his time. He was, however, an excellent manager for one of the Victorian era's major stage actors, Henry Irving. Stoker dedicated his life to helping Irving, who has almost vanished into history, achieve fame on the English stage. In turn, Stoker borrowed freely from Irving's character to help character ...more
Not as good a bio as the author did for Charles Fort, but it could be the seeming padding of this book. The gist of it really ought to be a great article or short-form novella, but it got filled out to standard book length with a lot of seemingly irrelevant side matter. (Honestly, I know Oscar Wilde nearly married the woman who became Stoker's wife, but did his history & trial and info thereabouts really need to fill two chapters in a book ostensibly about Stoker & the origins of his DRACULA nov ...more
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I expected a book about Bram Stoker studying myths or legends to arrive at his classic tale of the Un-Dead, and really, it wasn't that. However, I was not at all disappointed. I found myself very caught up in the life of this man and his interesting, but now forgotten boss, Henry Irving. I also found fascinating the idea that Oscar Wilde may have been an inspiration of sorts.
A terrific read and highly recommended!
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Perhaps Stokers most remarkable achievement was composing a novel called Dracula, while writing almost nothing about Dracula. Stoker left it to everyone else, a century of readers, to fill-in the mysterious characterization.” This quote by Steinmeyer in "Who Is Dracula?" captures the essence of the book.

Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula" has withstood the test of time. It is the 'holy grail' of vampire stories.
Stoker created a work 'for the ages' because it can be read and interpreted for any age.
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
I really enjoy this non-fiction look at Bram Stoker. During the first few chapters I wasn't so sure, but as the book progressed it became increasingly hard to put the book down when my reading break was over. An important thing to note, however, is that this book is not just about Bram Stoker. It focuses a lot on the people around him, some of which were particularly important figures. Henry Irving and Oscar Wilde are discussed a lot, and to a lesser degree Ellen Terry and Walt Whitman as well. ...more
Bob Gard
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
It details the sources and inspiration that Bram Stoker used to write his most famous book. And in that, it does a fairly good job. Even though the author goes off on some pretty wide tangents, it does provide a fascinating backstage look into the theatrical world of late Victorian and Edwardian times. The genesis for Dracula, I feel, is from the tails Stoker’s Mother told him as a child. Stoker was given to hero worship, and his life was filled with intense friendships with charismatic men who ...more
Doug Jennings
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Written well with entertaining stories of the fascinating life, connections, influences and legacy of Dracula author and creator Bram Stoker. I was fascinated and impressed with the rich literary historical context surrounding one of the most famous (but often not actually read) horror novels of all time. The cast of characters woven in and out of this literary "Who is it?" is stellar: Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, Jack the Ripper, George Bernard Shaw, first-knighted-actor Henry Irving and even a s ...more
Megan Gilchrist
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although I found the chapter divisions a bit choppy, I enjoyed the book. I found it especially interesting to read about all of the connections between Stoker and his contemporaries (Shaw, Boucicault, Whitman, Wilde, etc.). Worth a read if you're interested in 19th Century literature or the development of the horror genre.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This had a lot of really good information much of which I did not know. Unfortunately, the author is incredibly repetitive and uses the same examples and information chapter after chapter. It makes it seem like he didn't have enough information for a full book.
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The writing style takes a bit of getting used to, but the story told is fascinating!
Sep 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Steinmeyer writes non-fiction in a really interesting, mostly engaging way. Sometimes, commercial non-fiction books can read like mind-numbingly dry textbooks, or extremely turgid academic articles, which is never good. A book should never put you to sleep, or encourage your mind to wander to more mundane tasks. Steinmeyer (mostly) doesn't do that. He also begins and ends the book with fiction-esque prose, telling historical "fact" like fictional story, which is fun and engaging and something I ...more
Doug Clark
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Who Was Dracula? Bram Stoker’s Trail of Blood is Jim Steinmeyer’s latest excursion into popular entertainment. Steinmeyer, a well-known magician and illusion-builder, has been writing and publishing for magicians for many years. Not only has he written several books specifically for magicians, but he also wrote a regular column for one of the major magic magazines, MAGIC, from 1998 through 2004 (these columns were later collected and published as a book). However, since 2004, Steinmeyer has writ ...more
Chapter by Chapter
Mar 08, 2013 rated it liked it
We all know the stories of the significance of Vlad Tepes to Dracula was. But what do Henry Irving, Jack the Ripper, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Jekyll and Hyde, and The Picture of Dorian Gray have to with Bram Stoker’s Dracula?

To be perfectly honest, I thought Who Was Dracula?: Bram Stoker’s Trail of Blood was going to be more about Dracula himself. And I guess, in a sense it is, but it read more like a biography of Bram Stoker’s life and how he came about starting to write Dracula. I, myself, a
Jessica Strider
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pros: well researched, details Stoker's connection with numerous people despite the focus on Dracula

Cons: fairly repetitious

This non-fiction look at Bram Stoker and the men who influenced the character of Dracula is part biography, part fan letter. It's obvious that the author is a huge fan of Stoker's life and work and has written this well researched book in order to share that love with others.

The book starts out by pointing out the fact that what most people think of when they picture Dracul
Brad Hodges
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was ok

While I've been immersing myself in all things Dracula this fall, I thought I'd take a look at a historical account, and picked out Who Was Dracula? by Jim Steinmeyer. It's a good subject--who were the real influences behind Bram Stoker's fictional character--but unfortunately this book is poorly written, unfocused, and not very well argued.

I thought the book would give me a lot of information about Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, who gave Stoker the name Dracula. But there is not that much about him.
All Things Urban Fantasy
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Review Courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

WHO WAS DRACULA?: BRAM STROKER’S TRAIL OF BLOOD brings depth and intrigue to not only the creation of Dracula but also the life of his creator, Bram Stroker. There were some fascinating revelations about the various inspirations for Dracula as well a very interesting look at life in the Victorian era theater where Stroker worked while he wrote DRACULA. I loved how Steinmeyer created stories out of Stroker’s letters throughout the book which made it feel
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
The information is interesting to a certain point, but it seemed like a large complicated description of Bram Stroker's social circle at the time. The timeline of many of these chapters is pretty confusing. Some early chapters are before Stroker has written Dracula and is being inspired by literature, people, and events. Then there is a chapter in which it discusses reactions to Dracula, and then later back to the when Stroker is being inspire and Dracula has yet to have been published.

It seems
I thought this book was fascinating. The author proposes that Bram Stoker based his character of Dracula on Vlad Tepes in name only (and maybe a few generic facts about the Wallachian noble), that the Dracula in the story was really built on people that Stoker knew in his life. For some, like Jack the Ripper (Stoker knew one of the main suspects at the time, and would have been familiar with the case regardless) and Henry Irving, the modeling was probably on purpose. Other people may have had a ...more
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Jim Steinmeyer was born and raised just outside of Chicago, Illinois, and graduated in 1980 from Loyola University of Chicago, with a major in communications. He is literally the man behind the magicians having invented impossibilities for four Doug Henning television specials, six touring shows, two Henning Broadway shows, and numerous television and Las Vegas appearances.For one of David Copperf ...more

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