A sad collection of biographies of people who were regarded during their lifetimes as freaks. Despite Drimmer's thesis that these unusual people overcame their abnormalities, all of them experienced loneliness and unhappiness, with one of them committing suicide. Four of the stories take place during the early 20th century: Jack Earle, a giant whose father encouraged him to join the circus; Ishi, the so-called last Indian in North America; Daisy and Violet, Siamese twins who performed in vaudeville; and Ota Benga, the first Pygmy brought to the US. A fifth story, about Victor, a wild boy found in the south of France in 1800, seems out of place with the first four, unless the definition of an ""extraordinary"" person is someone who remained ""fearful, half-wild, and unable to learn to speak"" during his short lifetime. Jack Earle's father told him that ""being a freak is only a state of mind."" Readers will sense the real tragedy, however, of lives that were led outside the mainstream, and the despair connected with being so different.