Review: Colt’s Martial Bliss

Martial Bliss.: The Story of The Military Bookman.
Margaretta Barton Colt

A self-published memoir by the woman who co-ran the Miltiary Bookman, one of the legendary specialty bookshops that used to dot Manhattan in the pre-amazon days. Competently written, it tells the story of a now disappearing world of small used bookstores, staffed and frequented by passionate bibliophiles. If you’re a fan of books about books, then the stories here of the Military Bookman’s book scouting trips, and eccentric customers are wonderful. I’m fascinated by those who take their hobbies seriously, and many of the characters in this book took the study of military history very, very seriously. You’ve got the creepy proto-fascist war lovers here, of course, but most of the customers come across as curious, bookish, types excited about the prospect of a rare volume on a forgotten war or battle. It makes for fun reading.

The sections on Colt’s travels with her husband, and her work on a book about the civil war do, however, drag on a bit. If this hadn’t been self-published an editor would have cut these sections down. Still, worth the price of admission for the stories of some of the eccentrics who frequented this only in New York bookstore.

Recommended for the enthusiast.